Storm drains are important to prevent flooding during our rainy seasons, but unfortunately are at risk of localized flooding hazards. Trash, leaves, plastic debris, pollutants like motor oil or fertilizers can easily accumulate in our streets and neighborhoods, which can end up contaminating the Bay and ocean, or clogging our drains when it rains. Fortunately, there’s a way we can prevent this from happening. The Adopt-A-Drain Program enables residents to help cities keep their drains clean. Currently, residents in Belmont, Burlingame, and San Mateo have official programs where residents can volunteer to adopt a drain on their block and commit to keeping it clear of flooding and pollutants.
How does it work?
Signing up to adopt a drain is very easy, simple, and fun! First, find a drain in your city that you’d like to ‘adopt,’ which basically means you will commit to keeping the top of the drain grate clear of leaves and garbage. Next, complete the online application or volunteer registration form. You could even name the drain! Finally, clean and maintain your drain. This can be a fun activity you do with your family, friends, or neighbors to make a difference in your own neighborhood. If you live in Belmont, Burlingame, or San Mateo, visit those linked pages to get more details on the program and how to sign-up. Each of these cities also provide free supplies to help you keep your drain clean.
What if my city doesn’t have an Adopt-A-Drain program?
Let your city know that you’d like to see a program like this in your city! As a resident, your voice matters and you can submit a suggestion to your local councilmember, City Manager’s office, or Public Works Department. Find the contact form for the office or department on their respective websites to make it known you’d like to see a program like this in your area.
Nevertheless, even if your city doesn’t have an official Adopt-A-Drain program, you can still help protect our waterways. If you want to protect your neighborhood from flooding, all you need is a bucket, rubber gloves, and a rake to keep your drain clean. You can also encourage your community to do the same by posting about your efforts on social media platforms like Nextdoor.
Small actions like keeping our neighborhood drains clean make a big difference, especially if we encourage others to take part too. As stewards of the environment, we can keep our local community clean if we work together. RethinkWaste encourages residents to take small actions because every little action adds up to make a big impact.
If you’re looking for other ways to get involved and make a difference this Earth Month, consider participating in our Litter Challenge! If you live in the RethinkWaste service area* you might even win a prize for participating!
*RethinkWaste service area includes: Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, Parts of Unincorporated San Mateo County, and West Bay Sanitary District