Home » City Guide » ,

You Can “Adopt” & Name SF’s Storm Drains

Adopt a drain and you can name it – with fun names like “Cloggy Mc Soggy” and “Drainmond Green”
By - posted 1/7/2023 No Comment

Thanks to our friend Broke-Ass Stuart for sharing that San Franciscans can now name our storm drains, and they’re amazing.

San Francisco wants you to adopt a drain. Join thousands of local volunteers and adopt one of the 25,000 storm drains in our beautiful city and pledge to keep it free of debris. Besides helping to keep our drains clear to reduce flooding, you get to name the drain.

Clever San Franciscans wasted no time giving unique names to our drains like “Drainmond Green,” “Lana Del Drain,” “Sh’ Thursty” and “Cloggy Mc Soggy.” Browse San Francisco’s drains to check out their quirky names and see which ones are still in need of adoption.

Benefits of Adopt a Drain

  • SF Enables stormwater to drain properly and reduces risk of flooding.
  • Protects the environment by minimizing pollutants and trash that go down the drain.
  • Helps keep our streets clean and neat.
  • Fosters community engagement by encouraging residents to take an active role in improving their neighborhood.

Learn more below. To sign up, visit adoptadrain.sfwater.org.

How to Care for Your Adopted Drain

  • If possible, clear the drain before it starts raining.
  • Put leaves and other natural material in the green compost bin. Put trash in the black garbage bin.
  • Clear about 10 feet on both sides of the drain.
  • Medical waste or needles? Construction debris? Toxic materials? Report it to the City’s Customer Service Center, SF311.org on the web (or dial 3-1-1).

Drain Clearing Safety Tips

  • Never try to lift the drain grate.
  • Clear from the sidewalk, not the street.
  • Wear reflective clothing so vehicles can see you.
  • Always wear gloves and be careful of sharp objects!
  • Use a rake, broom, or shovel – not your hands.

Remember, the City and County of San Francisco won’t be held responsible for anything that happens to you or others in service of maintaining your drain. Please be careful!

Free Tools and Training

Once you sign up, you’ll receive periodic email notifications prior to large storms to clear your drain(s) before it rains. You’ll also receive invites to VIP volunteer events during the rainy season where you can get safety gear and drain clearing supplies.

Why adopt a drain?

In San Francisco, we have a combined sewer system that collects stormwater and sewage in the same network of pipes. While the system is made to handle a significant amount of rainfall, in large rain storms when the system reaches capacity, some low-lying areas of the City, especially areas that used to be creeks or streams, can experience flooding and property damage. No sewer system, including ours, can be designed to manage all the stormwater in all storms.

Our preventative operations and maintenance program includes inspecting, cleaning, repairing, and replacing aging sewers. Our crews use specialized trucks and equipment to deep clean more than 5,000 of the City’s 25,000+ catch basins each year, with a focus on low-lying areas of the city that are prone to flooding. We also monitor the weather forecasts carefully and when major storms are expected, we increase our staffing and deploy strike teams to monitor priority areas prone to flooding, even at night and on weekends.

Keeping storm drains and catch basins clear of leaves and debris helps avoid flooding and enables stormwater to drain properly. We appreciate our drain adopters to help us keep the drains clear of leaves and debris, protect the environment and help minimize risk of flooding. Find a drain and sign up at adoptadrain.sfwater.org.

Program Background

Code for San Francisco, a non-profit volunteer group and local chapter of Code for America, used open data (drain locations) to develop the Adopt a Drain web application at no cost to the city. The program was inspired by Boston’s Adopt a Hydrant Program.  The popular program has garnered media attention and attracted interest from various city, state and national governments who are interested in replicating it in their community.