Lancashire County Council is asking more people to help in the constant battle to clear leaves from the top of drains, ahead of heavy rain forecast later this week.
It is estimated that up to 80% of reports received about problems with drains during the autumn are due to leaves sitting over the top of grates, rather than a more serious maintenance issue.
Highways staff are grateful that many people already help by clearing debris away and allowing water to enter the drains, and is encouraging others to do the same if it is safe to do so.
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for rain affecting Lancashire from midday on Thursday and throughout Friday, and are alerting people to possible flooding to properties and disruption to travel in the worst affected areas.
The county council maintains over 300,000 roadside drains with those most at risk of becoming blocked being checked most often.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We will respond whenever we receive a report of flooding, and try to help however we can, whatever the source of the problem.
“Problems with highway drainage systems are very rarely the cause of flooding to properties, but often cause roads and pavements to become flooded if they have become blocked.
“At this time of year we have a lot of leaves on the ground, and with the heavy rain forecast for later this week, there is a likelihood that drains could become plugged by leaves.
“During the autumn we very often find the cause of blocked drains is simply leaves lying on top of the grate which act like a plug and stop the water flowing down. The grates are designed to trap leaves and other debris to prevent them causing blockages further down the piped systems, which would be more difficult to deal with.
“If people are concerned that a highway drain is not flowing this may well be the cause, and if it’s safe to do so I’d ask people to consider brushing the leaves one side to see if that works, and if possible to clear the leaves away.
“However, please only do this if it’s safe as we would never want anyone to put themselves at risk.
“We do of course respond to all reports that we receive, but particularly during heavy rain when we have to prioritise the most serious flooding issues, it’s worth people knowing that most blocked drains can be easily cleared.
“If people could help by clearing leaves from drains during the autumn it helps to ensure they’re fully working when it rains heavily, and mean that highways staff are free to prioritise the most urgent flooding issues.”
Highways staff are this week checking locations which are vulnerable to flooding to ensure that highway drains and trash screens are clear in advance of the heavy rain forecast.
If you can’t clear a blocked drain yourself, or the problem doesn’t appear to be caused by leaves, it can be reported at www.lancashire.gov.uk or by calling 0300 123 6701 and highways staff will attend as soon as they can. You can also find advice about what to do before, during and after a flood at lancashire.gov.uk/flooding.