A gully or drain is a large pot covered by a metal grid and is usually found at the edge of a road. They can also be found along the kerb line and these are called kerb inlet gullies. 

Surface rain water flows into these gullies then onto roadside ditches, sewer systems, soakaways, catchpits and on occasion directly into watercourses.
The majority of gullies are connected to public sewers that carry both foul and surface water. These sewers are owned and maintained by local Water Utility companies.

Image of a drainImage of a drain

Cleaning gullies

Knowsley Council is responsible for the cleaning approximately 30,000 gullies on the adopted highway.


Gullies and surface water systems on private roads, parking areas or non-council maintained land are the responsibility of the land owner.


Any enquiries relating to sewage problems should be directed to the relevant Water Authority or land owner.


How often are gullies cleaned?

  • Gullies on high-speed roads are cleaned twice per year - (Priority 1)
  • Gullies on classified A,B and C roads are cleaned once per year (Priority 2)
  • Gullies on unclassified roads are cleaned once every two years - (Priority 3)
  • Gullies may also be cleaned when blockages are reported

Blocked gullies

The council will clear any blocked gullies that are reported or identified through regular highway inspections. They are prioritised as:

  • If a blocked gully is reported and there are no reports of either highway or property flooding, this will be cleaned within the service standard of 28 days
  • If a blocked gully is causing highway flooding or if flooding a neighbouring
    property/land or at risk of flooding; the gully will be cleaned within two - 24 hours depending upon a risk assessment. 
  • If a blocked gully is reported on a Priority 1 or Priority 2 road with no reports of either highway or property flooding, and the regular cleaning is scheduled within 28 days, it will be left until the next scheduled visit. If the next scheduled clean is more than 28 days away, a new work request will be raised.

Maintaining gullies

If any problems are identified through the routine maintenance of adopted highways gullies, these will be investigated and considered as part of the annual Capital Maintenance funding.

Reasons why flooding may occur


The highway drainage system has a maximum capacity and at times, the amount of surface water exceeds this and it takes longer to drain the water.

Knowsley’s highway drainage systems rely on the free flow of sewer systems, which are the responsibility of water untility companies, ditches, which are thre responsibility of the land owner, and watercourses, which are the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

High river levels may also result in surface water being trapped on the highway. As river levels drop then water can flow from the carriageway back in to the river system.

There are many other reasons for flooding, such as third parties damaging piped systems and failing to report it.

Report a problem

You can report a problem with highway drains quickly and easily online or call 0800 0232334

If you prefer, you can view and download a PDF document of the information on this page. You will need Adobe Acrobat to view the documents which you can download from the Adobe website.

Chat with us