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Are you curious about the various types of drainage systems and how they play a vital role in managing water flow? Look no further! In this blog post, we will take you through drainage systems and explore the different types that exist.

Whether you’re a homeowner, a builder, or someone interested in understanding the fundamentals of drainage, this article will provide valuable insights. From surface drainage systems to subsurface solutions, we’ll uncover the diverse methods used to effectively control water runoff, prevent flooding, and ensure the stability of our infrastructure.

So, let’s embark on this educational journey to discover the different types of drainage systems and their significance in water management.

Understanding Drainage Systems

Drainage systems are crucial in managing water flow and preventing issues like flooding and water damage. In simple terms, a drainage system is a network of pipes, channels, and structures designed to collect and redirect excess water away from an area.

Installing Drainage System

To grasp the importance of drainage systems, it’s essential to understand their basic components and principles. Typically, a drainage system consists of three main elements: collection, conveyance, and discharge. The collection phase involves collecting water from various sources, such as rainwater, surface runoff, or wastewater. This can be achieved through surface inlets, gutters, or subsurface drains.

Once collected, the water is conveyed or transported through a network of pipes, channels, or ditches. The conveyance system ensures that water flows efficiently towards the desired discharge point, such as a river, a retention pond, or a treatment facility.

Finally, the discharge phase involves releasing the water safely and appropriately. This can be done through outlets, culverts, or stormwater management systems that regulate the flow and prevent any adverse impact on the surrounding environment.

Four Types of Drainage Systems

Drainage System

Surface Drainage System

Surface drainage systems are essentialto effective water management, particularly in areas prone to heavy rainfall or surface runoff. These systems are designed to collect and redirect excess water from the surface, preventing standing water and potential damage to structures and landscapes.

Various types of surface drainage systems are commonly used, each with its own purpose and advantages. Let’s explore some of them:

French Drains

French drains are gravel or rock-filled trenches containing a perforated pipe. They are installed below ground level to redirect water away from areas prone to water accumulation, such as basements or low-lying landscapes.


Swales are shallow, vegetated channels that collect and convey water across a landscape. They help slow down the water flow, allowing it to infiltrate the soil and prevent erosion.

Gravel Trenches

Gravel trenches are similar to French drains but without the perforated pipe. They are filled with gravel or crushed stone and serve as a conduit for water to flow away from problem areas.

Surface Inlets and Catch Basins

Surface inlets and catch basins are structures that collect water from paved surfaces, such as roads or parking lots. They direct the water into underground pipes or stormwater management systems to prevent surface flooding. Meanwhile, a slope drain diverts flowing water from a structure through a slope drainage system.

Subsurface Drainage System

Subsurface drainage systems are designed to remove excess water below the ground surface, helping control water table levels and prevent waterlogging. These systems are beneficial in areas with high water tables, heavy clay soils, or locations where surface drainage alone is insufficient.

Here are some common types of subsurface drainage systems:

Tile Drainage Systems

Tile drainage systems involve the installation of a network of perforated pipes, known as tiles, below the ground surface. These tiles collect excess water from the soil and transport it to an outlet or a drainage ditch, effectively lowering the water table and improving soil conditions for crops or structures.

Deep Well Systems

Deep well drainage systems are used in areas with very high water tables. They involve the installation of vertical wells equipped with pumps to lower the water level deep underground.

Horizontal Drainage Systems

Horizontal drainage systems consist of buried perforated pipes placed at a specific depth to intercept and collect subsoil water. The collected water is then discharged into an appropriate outlet or drainage system.

Vertical Drainage Systems

Vertical drainage systems, or wellpoint systems, are commonly used in areas with waterlogged soils or construction sites. They involve the installation of closely spaced vertical pipes fitted with filters to draw water from the surrounding soil and lower the water table.

Urban Drainage Systems

Urban drainage systems are critical infrastructure in cities and urban areas that manage stormwater runoff and prevent flooding. These systems are designed to efficiently collect, convey, and control the flow of rainwater and wastewater from urbanised areas. Two primary types of urban drainage systems exist combined sewer systems and separate sewer systems.

Pipes Drainage

Combined sewer systems collect stormwater runoff and wastewater in a single pipe network, then treated at a wastewater treatment plant. Separate sewer systems, on the other hand, have separate pipes for stormwater and wastewater, keeping them independent. Additionally, stormwater management systems, including retention ponds and detention basins, are commonly used in urban areas to store and slowly release excess stormwater, reducing the risk of flooding.

Urban drainage systems are crucial for maintaining a safe and functional urban environment, protecting infrastructure, and safeguarding public health by preventing waterborne diseases and minimising the impact of heavy rainfall events.

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are innovative approaches to managing surface water runoff in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Unlike traditional drainage systems focusing on rapidly removing water, SuDS aims to mimic natural processes and integrate green infrastructure to manage and treat runoff at its source.

SuDS techniques include features such as permeable pavements, green roofs, rain gardens, and constructed wetlands, among others. These techniques allow for the infiltration, storage, and slow release of rainwater into the ground, reducing the burden on conventional drainage systems and preventing flooding. Additionally, SuDS helps improve water quality by filtering pollutants and sediments before they reach natural water bodies.

Navigating Australia’s Diverse Drainage Systems

Understanding the different types of drainage systems is essential for effective water management and maintaining the integrity of your property. From surface drainage systems to subsurface solutions, each type serves a specific purpose in redirecting water runoff and preventing potential issues like flooding and water damage.

At Woolf Plumbing, we are dedicated to providing exceptional plumbing and drainage services. Whether you need a drain inspection or want to upgrade your plumbing and drainage system, our skilled team is here to help from Kiara to Manning.

Contact us today to ensure that your drainage system is in optimal condition and to benefit from our expertise. Trust Woolf Plumbing for all your drainage needs, and let us help you create a safe and functional environment for your property.

Ashley Woolf

Ashley Woolf

Find them on their website: Woolf Plumbing & Gas, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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