Flooding is sometimes inevitable after a heavy rain storm, particularly when debris and silt collect and block the flow of water in storm sewers and drainage systems. If not fixed, the blockage will cause this excess run-off to linger, affecting both motorists and pedestrians. Thankfully, there is equipment specifically designed to provide relief from this kind of problem called vacuum trucks.
Flooding is more than just an inconvenience to pedestrians and commuters. Submerged roads are dangerous to drive on since water reduces traction between the wheels and the road. The situation can become even more dangerous during the winter when melted snow can re-freeze into a layer of ice on the road which could cause vehicles to skid dangerously out of control.
Role of Storm Drains
Storm drains are conduit systems designed specifically to get rid of liquid run-off caused by precipitation and melting snow; they prevent rainstorms from flooding roads and the surrounding area. Storm sewers are an important infrastructure, especially in urban areas. Unlike rural areas where much of the rain is absorbed by the soil, urban locations and especially large cities have much of the ground covered in cement which does not absorb any liquid at all. Without a properly installed drainage system, rain water will simply collect and could result in flooding.
A storm system is a large infrastructure that runs beneath cities and is solely dedicated to removing this liquid run-off. The location of storm drains, as well as the size of the pipes used, are carefully planned to accommodate large volumes of water without overflowing.
A storm system has three major parts:
- Inlet– The inlet is an opening usually found on the side of the road. The inlet is grated in order to keep large debris from entering and blocking the pipes. Smaller debris that goes through the inlet grating is collected in the catch basin.
- Pipes– The pipes direct the run-off out of the city. The diameter of the pipes varies depending upon the volume of liquid collected. The smallest pipes are the ones directly connected to the drainage inlet. The pipes get larger as several smaller ones merge to compensate for the increased volume. Water run-off systems also have other features such as falls, stairways, balconies and pits for catching debris.
- Outlet– All the pipes, as well as the run-off, lead to massive outlets. In most cases, the rain water drains to natural bodies of water such as oceans, rivers, lakes, or canals, where it can be safely discharged.
Despite the fact that cities have floodwater removal plans, flooding still occurs. There are two reasons for this: first, the volume of precipitation is too much for the drainage system to handle; and second, the catch basins on the drainage system are clogged with so much debris that they restrict the flow of water.
Vacuum Trucks Role
If the flooding is caused by a clogged catch basin in the drainage system, help can be provided by vacuum trucks. The catch basin is specifically designed to catch debris and prevent it from entering the pipes; however, the debris can collect over a period of time and cause a clog. It is the role of the vacuum truck to regularly clean out catch basins and prevent clogging. Despite this regular activity, catch basins can still swell easily during heavy rain and the end result can be flooding. During this type of crisis, vacuum trucks can be called in to perform their extracting service and relieve the clog.
Flood sewer systems are designed to prevent an excess of precipitation from gathering in a particular area; however, they do require regular maintenance in order for them to effectively perform their duty which is where the role of vacuum trucks is so vital. The drainage system and vacuum trucks work in tandem to prevent an inundation. When catastrophic flooding events do occur, vacuum trucks are there to clean up after a deluge!