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Drains, gullies and sewers

Gullies (roadside gutters and drains) collect water running off the road and over pavement kerbs so it can go down drains into the sewer system. We are responsible for ensuring that road gullies are kept clean and running.

Gullies can become blocked and overflow through leaves, debris and grit collecting in the gully pot. This can lead to roadside flooding.

Drains and sewers are the pipes that carry foul waste and/or surface water away from one or more properties.

We have recently introduced an increased frequency to enable annual cleansing of all gullies across the borough. In addition to these schedules our service provider delivers an emergency response service to address blocked/overflowing gully issues reported.

Blocked roadside gullies

Highway road gullies are cleaned as part of our street cleaning programme.

Any reported blockages of gullies are subsequently cleaned by our contractor as a part of a reactive gully maintenance programme.

Generally, road gullies connect to Thames Water sewers, which are either surface water only or are combined sewers that carry surface water and foul drainage. The effectiveness of the gullies, particularly in intensive storms, is dependent upon the capacity of the Thames Water sewers.

If a blocked gully is located on a red route road then it is the responsibility of Transport for London (TfL). Contact TfL on 0343 222 1234 and dial option 5.

Report an issue with a drain/gully

You can also use this form to report lost keys or property in a drain.

Flooding caused by heavy rain

All drains and sewers are built and maintained to handle normal rainfall. Sometimes during heavy rain, they can’t carry the water away quickly enough and this causes flash flooding. In most instances this water will subside once the rain stops. Find out more about preparing for flooding.

If you are currently experiencing flooding call Thames Water on 0800 316 9800.

If surface water does not subside it is likely there is a blocked gully.

Report an issue with a drain/gully

Blocked drains and sewers

Thames Water is responsible for ensuring the maintenance, repair and clearance of all sewers within the Borough.

Drains from private properties are the responsibility of the property owner.

If your drain is blocked you will usually know because:

  • Your waste water will stop going away when you flush the toilet or empty a sink/bath
  • Private gullies (those outside your home, but still on your property) will overflow
  • There will also probably be a smell

If you have a blocked drain or sewer, in the first instance you need to try and identify where the blockage is and talk to your neighbour/s to see if they are affected. If more than one property is involved contact Thames Water customer service on 0800 316 9800 to report the problem. Thames Water will make arrangements to investigate, to see if it is their responsibility.

Drains that carry foul waste and/or surface water away from one property are the responsibility of the owner of that property to maintain, repair and unblock.

Find out more from Thames Water about homeowner responsibility.

We may become involved with drainage issues from one property affecting another if it is an ongoing problem. You can contact the Residential Environmental Health team on 0208 545 3025 and we will advise on whether we can assist with the problem.


For more information or advice, please contact the Residential Environmental Health team on 0208 545 3025.

Updated: 13 January 2022

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