Blocked drains

Highway drainage

Highway gullies are drains covered by a metal grid, commonly found at the edge of a road or on a footway. Surface water flows off the road surface into these gullies and then, usually, into the public sewer system (which is the responsibility of United Utilities.)

We are responsible for drainage on the adopted highway in Trafford and we maintain over 61,000 roadside gullies. All gullies across Trafford are cleaned on a recurring maintenance plan. We do not clean gullies on private or unadopted roads.

We respond to requests and enquiries during periods of heavy rainfall. During extreme events we often need to prioritise visits to those areas where there is risk to property flooding, and so we may not be able to visit every reported incident.

How we reduce flood risk on the highway

As well as routine and reactive cleaning and maintenance of Trafford’s gullies, we also:

  • Sweep the streets to keep them clear of detritus and leaves. Visit our street care page and leaf clearance page for further information
  • Monitor highway culverts and trash screens where we are responsible, and undertake repair work when necessary
  • Undertake an annual programme of drainage repairs to fix or replace defective drains
  • Clean gullies in known flooding hot spots before the winter season
  • Inspect and maintain gullies and drains in flooding hot spots when heavy rain is forecast (with a gully team on standby for any issues which may occur)


When there is a local flood, we are responsible for ensuring roads and footways are clear from water and safe to use. If roads are unsafe, we will close them until the flooding is resolved. In cases of severe flooding, we will also set up an evacuation centre for affected residents.

We do not:

  • Provide sandbags to homeowners, residents and businesses
  • Protect private property from flooding
  • Manage flood risks from burst water mains or blocked public and shared sewers. These are the responsibility of United Utilities.
  • Manage drainage on the motorway. This is the responsibility of National Highways

Visit our dedicated flooding page for more information. 

How you can help

While we are responsible for maintaining gullies and sweeping leaves off the road, there may be times when a quick sweep can help unblock a gully. Sometimes leaves can get washed over the gully grate and forms a plug over the drain.

If you spot a gully with leaves covering the grate, if it is safe to do so, you can sweep them away to help the water flow through and drain off the road.

Report a blocked gully

Gullies can become full of leaves and detritus, or become blocked with silt, which can mean that water will not run into them correctly. If you see gullies which are blocked like these examples, you can report these online using our ‘Report It’ system.

Example of a gully full of leaves

Example of a gully full of leaves

Example of a gully blocked with silt

Example of a gully blocked with silt

During heavy rain fall, gullies and the drainage system can become overwhelmed which gives the impression that they are blocked, much like the example. This can particularly be the case when gullies drain directly into brooks or streams. Where you can, wait for two hours after the rain has stopped to see if the water level drops.

Example of a gully draining slowly following heavy rainfall

Example of a gully draining slowly following heavy rainfall

If the water is still not draining or the water level does not drop after two hours, you can report it online.

Report a blocked highway drain