By Frank Davey, a chartered surveyor with Allman Woodcock in Norwich
It hasn’t rained much recently, and the trouble with long periods of fry weather is that when it does rain, all the routes for water run-off are blocked with silt and debris, and with a hard baked surface there’s nowhere for it to go. Well there is, but it might be somewhere that’s not wanted. It’s bad enough being at a bus stop and soaked by a passing car splashing through a puddle caused by a blocked gulley, but if that puddle turns into a lake which runs down your drive and into your house you will be even less happy. It’s rare that there is enough rain to cause major flooding in this region, but much of Norwich was under water in August 1912 when you could row a boat up Magdalen Street, and 3500 homes were flooded. There are some extraordinary pictures on the internet if you have never seen them. The cause was a combination of rain, high tides, full sewers and blocked gullies. For a while it has been necessary under planning controls to design driveways and parking areas leading off of a public highway in a way that rain- water can be diverted into the ground, where it belongs. This can be done by formal drainage and soakaways, or by pervious, free-draining surfaces such as gravel or special blockwork pavers. The reasons for this are both to replenish the water supply in the ground, and also to avoid water discharging onto the street where it can lead to flooding. Yes, it would help if the road gullies were kept clear too but we can all play our part in avoiding the splashing of pedestrians.
With forecasts of extreme weather conditions flash floods are an increasing risk, as friends of mine can testify. I hope they have dug the relief trench I suggested.
With droughts and hosepipe bans many of us use rainwater storage tanks for gardening. Good idea, keep a lid on to avoid breeding mosquitos but also ensure that when the tank is full it doesn’t overflow and saturate the wall of your property, or cascade down the drive and into your neighbour’s house. Surface water drains do silt up, and garden soakaways will clog with years of gutter debris or driveway dust getting in and will eventually need replacing. If you see water leaking out of the lowest joint in a downpipe it needs checking out.
And what if your house is flooded? It depends on how much and for how long, and what the house is built of so it can range from a nuisance to a big problem which I don’t have space for here but can help with.
I have a large bush in my garden and its roots are blocking the drain from the downpipe. I tried to dig it out last week but the ground is too hard. A job for this weekend? Bring on the rain!
Frank Davey is on 01603 610243.