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A street gutter is a depression running parallel to a road designed to collect rainwater flowing along the street and divert it into a storm drain. A gutter alleviates water buildup on a street, allowing pedestrians to pass without walking through puddles and reducing the risk of hydroplaning by road vehicles. When a curbstone is present, a gutter may be formed by the convergence of the road surface and the vertical face of the sidewalk; otherwise, a dedicated gutter surface made of concrete may be present.
Depending on local regulations, a gutter usually discharges in a storm drain whose final discharge falls into a detention pond (in order to remove some pollutants by sedimentation) or into a body of water.
Gutters were a frequent talking point of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, who said that all of humanity lived in gutters and attributed the worth of an individual to whether they were lying face down or face up in said gutter.
Not all streets have gutters, and they are most often found in areas of a city which have high pedestrian traffic. In past centuries when urban streets did not have sanitary sewers, gutters were made deep enough to serve that purpose as well.
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