Climate change and drainage systems: what you need to know

Climate change and drainage systems: what you need to know

Flooding is an unavoidable force of nature, and climate change is making it a more serious threat than ever before, with the Met Office already having issued warnings about the likelihood of heavier rainfall and flooding. As the risk of flooding increases, so too does the risk of damage to property and the surrounding infrastructure.

As the earth warms, the atmosphere around us holds more moisture. Rising temperatures intensify the water cycle, increasing evaporation. The air can only hold a certain amount of moisture at any given time, and as evaporation increases, rainfall becomes heavier. Already, several regions across the UK experience ‘extreme rainfall’ in summer; floods are no longer a threat we should only be aware of during the autumn and winter months.

And while the immediate focus will be on clearing the disruption caused by flooding, we must also remain vigilant about the impact it has on our community infrastructure – and the drainage systems working below ground.

Storm drains are installed across the UK and are specifically designed to draw water away from roads when heavy rain and flash flooding occurs by drawing excess water away from the streets via gutters and grids.

When functioning efficiently, storm drains are able to protect us from the impact of floods, but several extenuating factors put that at risk.

Firstly, many aren’t routinely serviced or maintained and become clogged with fallen leaves, litter and silt, which builds over time. Then, when a storm does hit, the drains below ground aren’t able to cope. They, instead, overflow and suddenly, huge lakes form on motorways, in car parks, and outside our businesses and homes.

Additionally, as flooding increases and the capacity of our sewer networks are put under greater threat, so too is the capacity of stormwater pumps. During storms, stormwater pumps help protect roads and buildings by pumping away large volumes of water to prevent flooding. Unless properly maintained and serviced, a pump station can become blocked with debris and the pumps will eventually wear out, leading to a complex and costly repair.

Finally, any excess water which isn’t able to drain properly can go on to cause structural damage to the surrounding infrastructure, affecting residential and commercial developments for years to come.

As such, it’s vital to ensure your site’s drainage system is assessed and maintained all year-round to ensure that should a flash or extreme flooding event occur, it’s best prepared to tackle the ensuing challenges and protect those living and working nearby.

Implementing a program of Pre-Planned Maintenance (PPM) with a drainage and pump expert will prevent your system from poor performance, meaning your site is at less risk of flooding during extreme weather. As well, regular CCTV drain inspections will alert you to any potential issues before they occur, giving you time to resolve the problem and prepare for adverse weather.

Taking action against a problem that may not have happened yet might seem an unnecessary expense, but climate change is increasing at a rate we cannot ignore. Should your drainage system become overwhelmed, there is a greater risk of incurring costs from damage to your property than there is the cost of investing into a regular schedule of maintenance.

To start the conversation on maintaining your drains and pumps to prevent disruption from flooding, contact Metro Rod on 01625 507945 or visit

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