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Thank You, Drain Heroes: Adopt a Drain Program Nearly Doubles in 2023

St. Johns Academy students clearing adopted drain

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) launched the Adopt a Drain Program in 2016, providing an opportunity for community members to help their neighborhoods, the City, and the environment by keeping storm drains clear of leaves and trash. At the beginning of January 2023, the program had 2,700 drain adopters.

Then we all saw some of the biggest storms in San Francisco’s recorded history, with 5.5 inches of rain hitting our streets in 24 hours. San Franciscans stepped up: by the end of January, we had 4,700 drain adopters, a 42 percent increase in one month.

Thank you to all our drain adopters for the critical help you provided in getting our city through an incredibly intense rainy season.

We know a lot of you asked for drain clearing tools, and we’re planning an event for this fall with a tool giveaway. Drain adopters will receive an email alert when that event is scheduled.

In the meantime, we are excited to share our new and improved Adopt a Drain website: If you are not already a drain adopter, you can join the program there. For current drain adopters, there are lots of reasons to visit the site:

  1. You can adopt more drains.
  2. If you haven’t given your drains fun names, you can do so by un-adopting and re-adopting them.
  3. If you moved away or no longer have time to clear your drains, you can un-adopt them so others can adopt them.

Why Adopt a Drain?

  • Help stormwater drain properly, reducing risk of flooding.
  • Protect the environment by minimizing pollutants and trash that go down the drain.
  • Help keep your street and neighborhood clean and beautiful.
  • Connect with your community by taking an active role in improving your neighborhood.
  • Give your drain a fun name.

Program Background

Most of our storm drains flow to our combined sewer system, which collects and treats both stormwater runoff from our rooftops, driveways, streets, and sidewalks, and sewage from homes and businesses in the same network of pipes. Some storm drains flow directly to the bay or ocean. Removing pollutants picked up from our streets before stormwater enters the bay and ocean is better for the environment, but can put more strain on our sewer system, especially during major storms. No sewer system, including San Francisco’s, can be designed to manage all stormwater in all storms. During heavy rains, some low-lying areas of the city, especially those that were once creeks or marshes, can experience flooding and property damage.

Year-round, our preventative operations and maintenance crews inspect, clean, repair, and replace aging sewers. They use specialized trucks and equipment to deep clean 5,000-9,000 of the city’s 25,000+ storm drains each year. We also monitor the weather forecasts and when major storms are expected, increase our staffing and deploy strike teams throughout the city, especially to low-lying areas prone to flooding, including at night and on weekends. We simply cannot get to every drain before every storm, so we rely on the help of residents like you. Our drain adopters can also be our eyes on the sewer system and report any badly clogged drains by submitting a service request to

Please help spread the word: