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Earth Action Hero: Watershed warriors

Be nice to Mother Earth—adopt a storm drain. Better natural water starts with each of us, and it’s easy to get involved. The City and Nine Mile Creek Watershed District partnered to take part in the Adopt-a-Drain program created by the Center for Global Environmental Education at Hamline University. More residents are joining in the effort each week. Since the program began in 2017, 130 participants have adopted 200 storm drains. Most adopt drains near their homes. There are 14,636 storm drains in Bloomington.

Residents who adopt a storm drain are asked to report debris removal once in the fall and spring, either online or by returning a postcard. (More frequent debris removal may be needed.) As a thank you, those who sign up receive an attractive yard sign. This is an ideal way to promote clean water practices in any neighborhood. It only takes a few quick steps to get started:

Sign up at Adopt-a-drain.org.

Keep your storm drain clear of leaves, grass and other debris.

Post the program-provided sign in your yard. 

Longtime Bloomington resident Lisa Boudreau, pictured above, adopted seven storm drains on her street and is committed to improving water quality in her neighborhood and beyond. 

“It’s something I never thought about until I noticed over the years how green our pond looks behind our house,” she said.  Boudreau became a storm drain advocate to make a difference.

“I’ve only cleaned the drains once, just recently, and will monitor to see how often they need to be cleaned. So far, I’ve found twigs, leaves, grass clippings and a few dog waste bags.”

Storm drain maintenance extends year-round, but autumn is an especially important time. Unless cleared, leaves go down the storm drain, trigger clogs and end up in the watershed, not the waste water treatment plant. Organic matter causes algae growth that can degrade water quality. 

While the City does street sweeping in the fall, you can help by keeping leaves out of storm drains and the street. Because of the brief window available, the City is not able to get to every neighborhood just as the last leaf falls.

For information about the Adopt-a-Drain program, visit blm.mn/stormdrains or adopt-a-drain.org, or call 952-563-4581 or email publicworks@BloomingtonMN.gov.