Climate change triggers drainage management rethink

Climate change caused by global warming is contributing to facilities and property managers recognising the value of preventative drainage maintenance to prevent highly damaging flooding.

The Lanes drainage team in Newcastle upon Tyne is among Lanes depots across the UK that are receiving more enquiries about planned and preventative maintenance (PPM) work on drainage systems.

Trevor Sawyer, Area Development Manager for Lanes Newcastle, said: “Increased awareness about more extreme weather patterns linked with climate change are playing a big part in encouraging a switch from reactive to preventative drainage management strategies.

“Property managers appear to be increasingly concerned, quite rightly, to ensure drainage systems are in the best possible condition to cope with sudden adverse weather, and so prevent flooding.”

Record rainfall in July 2019 has focussed minds still further. North west England, alone, experienced 40-50mm of rainfall in 24-hours, equivalent to half a month’s rain. The deluge contributed to serious flooding and the crisis at the Whaley Bridge reservoir in Derbyshire.

The Port of Seaham, based at Seaham Harbour (picutured) in County Durham, is one business that has always had a PPM for drainage in place. Lanes is contracted to visit the port every quarter to inspect and clean surface and foul drains, and empty two fuel interceptors.

The port, operated by the Victoria Group, can handle ships up to 8,000 tonnes and offloads significant amounts of dry bulk goods, including steel and timber. It has 7.5 acres of covered warehousing, and 1.5 acres of purpose-built segregated open storage.

Port of Seaham Operations Manager Andy Smith said: “We see Lanes’ drainage maintenance service as being very important to us. We can’t countenance any unnecessary disruption to the commodity handling service we provide.”

In other business sectors, Lanes’ PPM drainage service has contributed significantly to reducing emergency callouts for drainage problems, including toilet blockages and sewer flooding.

Trevor Sawyer said: “We provide a PPM drainage service for one of the biggest office complexes in the north east of England, and since we started, emergency callouts have fallen to near zero.

“Over a year, that means thousands of office users are not being inconvenienced, emergency callout costs are greatly reduced, along with associated management costs, and FM clients stay very happy.”

As part of a PPM drainage service, Lanes will first carry out a comprehensive CCTV drainage asset condition survey of a site’s foul and surface water drains and sewers.

The data gathered informs decisions about the level of service needed. It also identifies if remedial work is needed and allows the client to prioritise such work to control costs.

Lanes can then deploy a wide range of the latest, most effective specialist drainage equipment, operated by trained and qualified drainage engineers, to carry out work safely and sustainably.

“Changing weather, more sophisticated buildings, and more demanding end-use customers mean the days when drainage systems could be kept out of mind, because they’re out of sight are behind us,” said Trevor Sawyer. “Our PPM drainage customers know that and are reaping the benefits.”

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