Since the launch of San Francisco’s Adopt a Drain program in Fall 2016, the City’s 311 work orders for street flooding issues have reduced 36% below anticipated levels, illustrating the effectiveness of residents taking initiative and ownership of their drains.
The Adopt a Drain program is one facet of the SFPUC’s comprehensive approach to planning and preparing for extreme weather and flooding. Through this program, San Francisco residents are able to “adopt” one of the City’s 25,000 drains (also known as catch-basins), pledging to clean and maintain the drains to help reduce the risk of flooding. The program has raised awareness about the importance of keeping catch basins clear of leaves and debris, allowing stormwater to flow easily into San Francisco’s combined sewer system. Since the launch of the program, more than 2,900 drains have been adopted by more than 1,800 residents.
Before the launch of the Adopt a Drain SF program, San Francisco’s 311 call center received 2,970 service requests for street flooding issues between September 2014 – September 2016. From September 2016 to September 2018, which coincided with the debut of the program, San Francisco experienced 20 percent more rainfall and 311 calls increased by 40 percent across the City. Based on those increases, 311 should have projected to receive 4,990 service requests related to flooding on streets. However, during that two-year period, the agency received just 3,179 service requests—36% below the anticipated total.