Briefing – Surface Water Flooding in Edinburgh (4th of July 2021)

Below is a note from Council staff on Sunday’s flooding in Edinburgh. Below that is a update from the gully team from a couple of weeks ago on the progress they were making in my Ward.

Flooding in Edinburgh – 4th July 2021
You will no doubt be aware of the localised, but significant, surface water flooding that we experienced in a number of areas of the city yesterday afternoon and evening.

I thought it would be useful to provide you with an update on action taken to date and some background information on our operations.

The Gully Team worked throughout last night and today to respond to reports of flooding. This team has also been supported by additional resource from the Roads Operations service in order to respond to as many reports as possible, as quickly as we could.

Unfortunately, the significant rainfall intensity that we experienced was way beyond the capacity of the road drainage system. There were a number of examples across the city where road drains were surcharging due to the Scottish Water sewer network also being at capacity. As you would expect, we are working with Scottish Water to identify these locations and any potential solutions to prevent future recurrences.

Much of the flooding subsided relatively quickly after the rainfall intensity reduced, which would indicate a lack of capacity in the drainage network as opposed to blocked road drainage. At the time of writing, there is no known location where there is still standing water.

In addition to responding to the flooding and any clean ups that are required, Roads Operations have also been responding to damaged manhole covers. Where these covers are the responsibility of Scottish Water, we have been making them safe and then passing them on to Scottish Water for fuller repair or replacement.

Members will be aware that we operate a target schedule of every two years for gully emptying. In addition, we have an enhanced six monthly emptying frequency for the sensitive locations in the city where there are known hotspots for surface water flooding. I can report that the sensitive location routes had been completed in advance of the adverse weather event. In addition, over 10,500 gullies had been attended to in the last four months alone in line with our wider maintenance schedule.

I appreciate that you may be contacted by constituents who have, unfortunately, experienced water damage to residential or commercial properties. If this is the case, we recommend that these constituents are advised to contact their insurance company as a priority. If you do feel that there is a complaint that you feel warrants further investigation then please email

If you would like to discuss any of the content of this note, or any other related matter, then please feel free to contact me directly.

Ward 8 Gully Maintenance (15th June 2021)
We are making progress all be it slowly, I am not sure any of us knew the extent of the backlog and issues we would face when we applied for the drainage team and it does certainly have it’s challenges but we are starting to seeing a difference.

We now have two of our three new vehicles, one old one and one on hire. We are working through the back log of add hoc reports as well as making inroads into the scheduled routes.

The works supervisor advises the ward 8 reports have all been done with the exception of any that had parked cars and the ones I have just raised that he hasn’t seen yet, the scheduled routes in ward 8 are being done and once we have a list of any gullies that could not be accessed a Traffic Order will be raised to ban the parking to allow any left to be cleaned. We have even cleaned the gullies and poly channels on the Colinton Bridge.

This progress is being echoed across the city where we are starting to see less reports coming in which is letting us keep the lorries on routes. We can see up to 50 gullies cleaned a day per vehicle on a route as appose to as few as 10 if the lorry is on add hoc reports as these can be scattered over several areas.

The repair team have also been very busy and we are working through some very long standing issues that have been repeatedly causing flooding issues for some time. One such job we have just completed near Ratho, Scottish Water had sent a mole up a footway to pull a new main through, this ran up a gully line for about 50m. This had been left to flood each time it rained for a number of years. We now have a new line in and no flooding and Scottish Water will be recharged for this.

I am not under any illusions we are there yet or that things will ever get quiet but it is moving in the right direction.

One thought on “Briefing – Surface Water Flooding in Edinburgh (4th of July 2021)

  1. Well done, Scott, in calling for honesty about the gullies.

    With party politics unfortunately defending the indefensible is the preferred option.


    Sent from my iPhone



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