Keeping storm drains and catch basins clear of leaves and debris helps avoid flooding. It also enables stormwater to drain properly. Every bit of help counts and San Francisco residents are taking an active part by “adopting” drains in their neighborhood, helping to protect the environment and minimizing risk of flooding.
For four years, the Adopt a Drain Program has enabled San Francisco residents to “adopt” one of the City’s 25,000 storm drains, keeping it free of debris. Not only does this effort reduce localized flooding but it is also fostering community engagement by encouraging neighbors, homeowners and renters to take a proactive role in improving their neighborhood.
“Adopt a Drain SF is a fun and unique way to learn about how the sewer system functions,” said Idil Bereket, SFPUC Wastewater Communications Manager.
Bereket is currently leading the Adopt a Drain SF program and has been with the SFPUC for over 14 years. During her time engaging the public on various wastewater programs and projects, she has not seen a more active community develop.
“This is an opportunity to participate and take pride in protecting this vital city asset. I’m a drain adopter too and am proudly taking care of ‘Duke the Lion Dog'”, said Bereket. “The program raises awareness about our combined sewer system and connects us with those who live, work, and play in San Francisco. It helps out our crews when it rains and is making a difference.”
San Francisco has a combined sewer system that collects stormwater and sewage in the same network of pipes. While the sewer 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 the SFPUC’s, can be designed to manage all the stormwater in all storms.
The SFPUC’s preventative operations and maintenance program includes inspecting, cleaning, repairing, and replacing aging sewers. SFPUC 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. The SFPUC is also keeping an eye out on the weather forecast and when major storms are expected, the agency increases staffing and deploys strike teams to monitor priority areas prone to flooding, even at night and on weekends.
“We named our drain after our dog,” shared Bereket. “And we’ll take care of our drain just like we took care of him as a way to remember him.”
Residents can sign up to adopt a drain and give it a name.