Water Over the Road: Where is it coming from?

If the problem of running water reported in the recent newsletter on the north side of Victoria Road were one of run-off it would probably have been sorted long since. Unfortunately, it’s not run-off but groundwater, as can be seen from the fact that water bubbles out of the middle of the road itself even after two weeks without rainfall. It’s not a leaking water main – that’s been tested. It’s a problem that has appeared since the gated housing estate was built behind us on the site of the old laundry, though whether it’s connected with that I don’t know.

Last June I wrote to the county officers about it, enclosing photographs and asking for a drainage channel across the pavement. He visited personally, to avoid having to put anything in writing. The reason for that is that the water authority will not take groundwater, only run-off; so the county highways people aren’t allowed to channel the water into the gutter. All they can do is serve a notice on us to stop the water going across their pavement.

That, however, would be very difficult for us to do. The reason why the water emerges there is that it is where a gravel bed (on which our row of houses sits) meets the top of a clay bed : there is no prospect of us being able to get it to soak away, and no way of stopping it emerging.

We are stuck – vulnerable to prosecution but unable to do anything about it ourselves. The obvious solution is a channel into Thames Water’s system – the flow rate is very small (about 30 litres/hour), but of course enough to create an ice sheet in winter.

Any help that VRG can give that doesn’t end up with us being prosecuted for something we’re powerless to do anything about would be appreciated.
Dick Wolff, No.69


  1. vrgblog said

    Dick, and others,

    Regardless of the sources of water, should not the engineering of the road allow the water to drain? Surely a well designed road will not have standing water puddles.

    Does responsibility of proper drainage of water depend on the source of the water?


    • Janet Rodgers said

      Hi Bill,

      According to what Dick has been told (and I hope I’m getting this right), the source of the water is indeed important. If the water is “groundwater”, it cannot be dumped into the sewer system; it “belongs” to us as the owner of the land and we have to dispose of it some other way. If it’s “runoff” (i.e. from the sky), it can go into the sewer system.

      As the owner of the Victoria Road ice rink, I’m greatly concerned, but it appears I can’t do anything about it. The water is mine, but I have no idea how to keep it off the public pavement, since the pavement doesn’t belong to me. As things stand, it still goes into the sewer (illegally). Fortunately for me, the source changed awhile ago and it was bubbling up in the road instead of in my parking spot. I can only hope that once the Wolffs have their leak fixed, my groundwater will once again change its path, or at least stay off the pavement!

      I am grateful to Dick for continuing to deal with this issue. I contacted the city and was informed that the issue has already been reported and therefore they will not make another entry for me.


  2. Dick Wolff said

    The story of the wet pavements continues : we had a water meter fitted a month ago, not convinced that there wasn’t a leak on our mains (which Thames Water engineers said there wasn’t). There clearly IS a mains leak : we’re losing about a ton and a half of water a day. So although that’s bad news in that we have to get the main replaced, it’s good news in that at least the problem can be sorted.

    Water still comes across the pavements between Nos.61 and 73, where the houses are raised up above the road level, so it’s possible that there still is some issue of groundwater, but I don’t think at anything like the rate it’s flowing at the moment.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: