I recently received a notification about the Adopt a Drain program in Minneapolis. This program falls under the Public Works banner, specifically the Sewer and Storm Drain Unit.
A storm drain collects natural surface water such as rain, melting snow and ice, and water from outdoor use such as lawn watering or washing the external home environment. [Any water from inside your home – bathroom, kitchen, etc., goes through the sanitary sewer system which has the water and waste directed to treatment plants.]
The Adopt a Drain program is needed because we do not have pristine outdoor conditions. As rain run-off flows towards a drain, it can pick up natural materials such as grass clippings and leaves, contaminants such as a leaky vehicle’s oil, summertime lawn pesticides and fertilizers, wintertime de-icers, or common household garbage. And with trees shedding their colors in the fall, a large amount of leaves can end up in the storm drain system over the winter.
The purpose of the program then is to keep the city storm drains as clear as possible of foreign debris. Once the water gets into the storm drain system, it flows directly into our lakes, rivers, creeks and stormwater holding ponds. If the leaves and grass clippings are pulled in with the water and settle to the bottom of the drain system, a decaying process can take place. The excessive organic matter can then add too much carbon and nitrogen to the next significant rainfall or snow melt, which can cause algae blooms that stifle the aquatic life or feed the milfoil.
I have been enthusiastically cleaning the drain immediately in front of our house for several years now. While we do not have a full-size tree on our property, there are three mature trees that shed into our yard, or into the street that flows into the drain. We have learned that when leaves in the drain get frozen in ice, it is like concrete when spring temperatures start the process of melting piles of snow. Any blockage will flood our street – and requires the Storm Drain Unit to come out and clear the blockage.
The process to adopt a drain is simple, and can be done online [search Minneapolis Adopt-A-Drain]. If you are focused on your street, you can enter your address and the system will show the drains available in your neighborhood. You are required to name your adoptee, and it does not need to be your name. You can also un-adopt the drain as easily. I named mine Drainocaine.
My request to my neighbors is this – please keep the street and sidewalk in front of your home clear of garbage. It may not be your garbage; if visitors decide that cleaning out their car in front of your home is okay, bring them a grocery bag for them to collect their mess. As to those who pull up to a stop sign and toss out a plastic water/pop bottle or McDonald’s bag – there are garbage cans on street corners, in front of businesses, and at your home. Don’t disrespect our neighborhood – and remember – that garbage just might end up on a river, pond, or creek, or cause a drain system back-up in your neighborhood.