York’s flash flooding in August was caused by blocked sewer systems and narrow pipes, according to the city. The report led to Andrew Waller, executive member of the environment, being given plans on flood defense.
The City of York’s Council, Steve Wragg, flood risk manager, reports that the water was due partly because of the main sewer being blocked. Wragg also claims that the old pipes beneath Fishergate have now narrowed, making them less efficient. He claims that the city is looking into drain cleaning procedures and ways to make the pipes more effective.
Wragg claims that the city’s recent investments in cleaning gullies and maintenance helped save the city from additional flooding after 30mm of rain fell on the city in just an hour. Yorkshire Water has also confirmed that the partly-blocked drain was to blame for the system failing.
Yorkshire Water claims that the company spends £2 million annually due to sewer blockages. The company claims that they spend the majority of time removing items in the sewers that shouldn’t be there.
Leftover cooking fat and “flushable wet wipes” are two common items that make it into the sewer system that should not be there. These additional items put more strain on the sewer system, causing blockages and flooding in severe cases.
The city has been slow to respond to flooding issues partly because of local concerns. Barriers were put up and removed for fear that they may fail and cause rapid flooding that would pose a serious risk to nearby homes.
The city is in the planning phase trying to devise a plan of defense against flooding. The city expects to have new defenses in place next year. A major issue is funding and the speed of deployment. Defenses may take as many as 7 – 10 years to complete, but York expects them to be completed in the city in five years.
Reports from early December show that some 900 drains are badly blocked in York. The drains are so blocked that they can no longer be cleared, increasing the risk of severe flooding on some streets.
Workers are investigating all of the city’s gullies, 42,690 in total. The report found that the city has investigated over 35,330 gullies or drains, with 53% of gullies and drains found to be blocked. The report shows that 900 of the 18,700+ blocked drains can no longer be cleared.
Engineers will need to work extensively on the drains to get them back into workable condition.
Litter, mud, leaves, roots and other debris are found in the drains. Utility works have also damaged many of the drains, causing them to no longer be operable. Older drain lids had poor designs that made it easier for debris to enter into the drainage system.
The problem is a growing concern for York, which is no in the middle of a potential funding shortage. The Department of Transport has stated that York may not receive their full funding this coming year if the drainage problem is not resolved.