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, as a nonpoint pollution source 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. Not all streets have gutters, and they are most often found in areas of a city which have high pedestrian traffic. In rural areas gutters are seldom used and are frequently replaced by a borrow ditch.
In past centuries when urban streets did not have sanitary sewers, gutters were made deep enough to serve that purpose as well. In that environment the responsibility for operation and maintenance of the gutter was cooperatively shared between the local government and the inhabitants. Social relationships helped to enforce behaviours.
- Kearfott, Pamela J.; Barrett, Michael E.; Malina, Joseph F., Jr. (May 2005). "Stormwater Quality Documentation of Roadside Shoulders Borrow Ditches" (PDF). Texas ScholarWorks. Center for Research in Water Resources, The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Jørgensen, Dolly (2008-08-13). "Cooperative Sanitation: Managing Streets and Gutters in Late Medieval England and Scandinavia". Technology and Culture. 49 (3): 547–567. doi:10.1353/tech.0.0047. ISSN 1097-3729.
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