Drains and Sewers

Roadside drains

We maintain over 300,000 roadside drains, also known as gullies, on the roads.  As there are so many, we can't service them all regularly. Very often when we respond to a call out for a blocked drain on the road, we find that the grate is just covered by wet leaves or grass, which act like a plug and stops the water flowing down it freely.

If you notice that a gully on your street has become blocked by leaves which can be easily brushed away, without putting yourself or others at risk, brush the blockage to one side. Gather up the leaves and dispose of them in the same way you would dispose of leaves from your household gutters and drains. Clearing the leaves regularly makes sure the water can flow freely into the drain next time we get heavy rain.

If you can't clear the blockage yourself, you can report a non-urgent blocked roadside gully by completing our on-line reporting system and we will clear it as soon as we are able to.

The county council is not responsible for maintaining roadside drains on unadopted roads. If the road is on a housing scheme you should contact the housing office.


The drainage connection from your property is your responsibility up to the connection with the public sewer. It is your responsibility to keep it clear and you must arrange for any blockages to be cleared at your own expense. Some district councils provide a service for clearing blocked drains and you should contact them to arrange this. There is a charge for this service.

If your property was built before 30 October 1937, the drains serving your property are your responsibility but the sections serving more than one property are owned and maintained by United Utilities.

If your property was built after 30 October 1937, the drains serving your property are your responsibility but the sections serving more than one property are in shared ownership of those properties.

We always monitor the weather and have flooding and severe weather emergency plans in place so we are prepared to act quickly when severe weather warnings are issued.

As part of our role as a Lead Local Flood Authority, we have produced a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy which explains how we manage local flood risk in Lancashire. 


Adopted sewers or private sewers are looked after by United Utilities.

If you think a sewer is blocked under the road, because there is flooding or you can detect a foul smell, please contact United Utilities direct. It is most likely their responsibility. If you are not sure whether the sewer is a fault please contact us and we will put you through to the relevant district to investigate on your behalf.

Excavating the highway

Anyone needing to excavate in the highway, e.g. to repair a sewer connection or find a blockage, requires permission from Lancashire County Council. There is a charge for this permission and you will be advised of this when you contact the relevant partner. You or the contractor you employ will need a minimum of £5,000,000 (five million pounds) Public Liability Indemnity Insurance and hold the relevant accreditation for working in the highway. Contact us for an application form.

If the blockage is so severe that it requires a dig down please contact us to seek permission to excavate. We will explain the procedures you will need to take. You may also need permission from United Utilities (external web site) if the connection with the sewer is involved. If your property is old and the connection serves a number of properties it is possible that the connection is subject to a Section 24 agreement under the Public Health Act 1936, making it public. This means that it is the responsibility of United Utilities and you should contact them direct for verification. If you require any further help please contact us.