Adopt a Storm Drain, a new program aimed at protecting area lakes, rivers, and wetlands, has just launched in the Twin Cities. Residents in the seven-county metro area and Rochester are invited to “adopt” a storm drain by committing to keep it clear of leaves, trash, and other debris. The simple act of sweeping up around a storm drain protects local lakes and rivers by preventing pollution from entering our shared waterways.

Residents “adopt” storm drains by sweeping up grass clippings and leaves around through the changing seasons.

Residents can sign up to adopt a storm drain at Simply create an account with your name and address to claim your storm drain. Once you’ve signed up, Adopt-a-Storm-Drain will send you tips on how to clean up safely.

When you adopt a storm drain, you become part of’s network which invites you to share stories and photos with neighbors through social media, encouraging others to take action on behalf of local waterways. The quantity of debris you collect will inform annual reports on the collective impact we’ve had on local lakes and streams through the Adopt-a-Storm-Drain program.


Collective action adds up

Perhaps you’ve already noticed Adopt-a-Drain lawn signs in your neighborhood. The Adopt-a-Storm-Drain program began in Saint Paul in 2014 with support from the City of Saint Paul and the Capitol Region Watershed District and has since been piloted in other cities. All told, more than 3,000 residents in pilot cities have adopted 5,401 drains to date. In 2018, residents prevented more than 35,562 pounds of debris from washing down storm drains and into lakes and rivers just by sweeping up around storm drains.

By cleaning up around adopted storm drains, we’ve already prevented over 17 tons of debris from entering our lakes and streams.

Residents of Saint Paul put their own spin on the invitation to Adopt-a-Storm-Drain, making it a neighborhood challenge. A friendly rivalry started last summer when Hamline-Midway residents challenged their neighbors in Como to see which neighborhood could adopt the most storm drains. Several other neighborhoods have since joined the competition, and thus far, Como is in the lead with 60 drains adopted by 116 new participants.

Lucy Hunt, a resident of Saint Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood, took the lead on the Adopt-a-Drain challenge last summer. On National Night Out, she brought her drain clean-up kit — gloves, a rake, a broom, a dust pan, and garbage bags — to nearby block parties. Her goal was to show neighbors just how easy adopting a drain can be. “It’s not a huge time commitment, and the results on water quality are dramatic,” she said.

Last August, Adopt-a-Storm-Drain debuted at EcoExperience at the Minnesota State Fair. More than 700 residents from 73 cities around Minnesota signed up to adopt a drain. Participants took home a goody bag with a lawn sign and tips to get started. After learning about the program, Dee, a new homeowner in Rosemount, was inspired to make a difference in her neighborhood. “Only rain down the drain!” she said.

Show off your commitment to protecting the environment by posting an Adopt-a-Drain sign in your yard.

It’s obvious that trash, road salt, and chemicals harm lakes and streams, but it may be less clear why “natural” debris like leaves, grass clippings, and fertilizers are also a problem. When it rains, leaves wash into storm drains that flow directly into the nearest lake or river. Decaying leaves and grass release nutrients into the water that feeds excess growth of algae.

If the surface of a lake or river is covered with a green film of algae, it prevents oxygen from reaching the bottom and chokes out native plants and animals. When you adopt a drain, you prevent harmful pollutants of all kinds from entering bodies of water. Sweeping up around drains will help create healthier habitat for all the plants and creatures that depend on our waterways.


Join the Adopt-a-Drain movement

Imagine a future where your local river or waterway was clear of algae, trash, salt, and sand. Crystal clear waters are healthier for wildlife, aquatic plants, and the millions of residents who depend upon surface water as a drinking supply.

In order to protect the lakes, rivers, and streams that Minnesotans call home, we need all hands on deck. There are more than 300,000 storm drains in the metro area, and every last one of them flows into a local waterway. Adopt-a-Storm-Drain is the largest adopt-a-drain program in the country, and you can be a part of the change. Sign up at today.

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  1. My brother, Dave Andresen, lives with me. He signed up for the program at the State Fair. You misspelled his last name and sent a second adopt-a-drain yard sign to him. So we have the one he adopted and another one on the other side of my property at 345 Ensign Ave. N. Golden Valley, MN 55427. It is at the intersection of Ensign Ave N and Wally Stree in Golden Valley. I always took care of all four drains near my property since I moved here in 1974. One has been taken over by another neightbor at my “suggestion”. Some parents don’t teach their kids about this necessity.

  2. Hi Ann. So sorry for the trouble. I’m not sure what’s going on. There is no technical reason why you can’t add one cleaning and then another right away. Perhaps there was some momentary issue with the site. I just tested it now and there doesn’t seem to be a problem adding consecutive cleanings. Thanks for your work and let me know if the issue persists. Email us at: [email protected].

  3. Cleaned our drains a week ago, but because of falling leaves want to report another cleaning. I must be doing something incorrectly as I can’t figure out how to do another report so soon after the previous one!!?!

  4. My son has to do Comunity works for 12 hours. I think this is way to go,to help keep storm drain clean.

  5. I can adopt drains on West Franklin Avenue between Georgia and Florida Avenues. I have been trying to adopt, but the links are not working properly for me to do so.

  6. Hi Sandy, Thanks for signing up! We do have you registered for the program and you’ve adopted one drain. We’ll send you an email to help you adopt the rest. All the best, Jana

  7. I am willing to adopt all drains at each end of 15th Avenue and 7th Street 15th Avenue and 9th Street, and 16th Avenue and 7th Street and 16th Avenue and 9th Street in Rochester, MN. I tried to sign up but for some reason it never went through.

  8. Hi Charlene, Let me revise my response: Please send an email to us at adoptadrain at letting us know the location of your drain and we can add it to the system for you. Thanks again.

  9. Hi Charlene, Thanks for wanting to adopt a storm drain! We are working to perfect our data, but in the meantime please adopt another drain near you. You can still clean “your” drain, too.

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