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Get ready to Adopt a Drain in your neighborhood!

February 26, 2019

Kids cleaning a storm drainAlthough there is still a lot of snow on the ground, we are excited to let you know about a new program that will be launching soon: Adopt a Drain! This metro-wide program will provide you an easy way to take steps in your own neighborhood to protect your local lake, river or stream from pollution.

When the snow melts or when it rains, that water flows untreated to local lakes, rivers and streams through storm drains, taking with it any pollutants, debris, and litter in its path. This polluted water, called stormwater runoff, harms habitat for wildlife and hinders our recreational enjoyment of Minnehaha Creek, Lake Minnetonka, and other waters across our watershed. With so many storm drains in the 29 communities that make up the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD), residents can be partners in our efforts to provide and protect clean water by volunteering to keep the drains in their neighborhood clean.

The Adopt a Drain program will serve the entire seven-county metro area and is among the largest such efforts in the country. It is organized by Watershed Partners, a consortium of cities, government agencies, non-profits, and other organizations that educate others about water quality issues. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is a member of this partnership which helps others understand how they can help protect and improve the lakes, rivers and streams in their communities.

Storm drains are a natural focus of this clean water work. Leaves, grass clippings, and other organic matter that accumulate around storm drains will eventually break down after reaching the nearest body of water. This decaying process uses up dissolved oxygen in the water, which harms fish, plants and other aquatic life, and it releases phosphorus which can cause algae blooms in the summer. In the winter, road salt put down to battle ice can settle around storm drains. Road salt that enters lakes and rivers is toxic to fish, birds, aquatic plants and insects and can threaten your favorite fishing hole or bird watching spot.

While many cities sweep their streets in the fall and in the spring, leaves, grass, sediment, road salt, and litter enter storm drains all year long. By adopting the drains near your house, you can help keep those things out of your local lake and stream throughout the seasons. This is a great activity for scout and school groups, too!  A fourth-grade class from Blake School even received an award from the MCWD for their storm drain cleanup effort. 

When residents sign up for the program, they’ll receive an email with instructions on how to safely clear storm drains, dispose of the debris, and report the amount of debris they collect. Throughout the year, participants will receive a few friendly reminder emails and an annual report on local and metro-wide accomplishments.

Sign-up to be alerted when Adopt-a-Drain launches in your area. We look forward to partnering with you on protecting your local lake, river or stream from pollution. Together, we can make a difference in improving the quality of water and quality of life in our communities.