Northeast Adopt-a-Drain Challenge

Neighborhoods take part in a friendly challenge to clean up stormdrains in Northeast Minneapolis.


Project Details

City: Minneapolis

Type: Community Grant (formerly Mini Grant)

Status: Active

Timeline: 2020

MWMO Funding: $2,951

Partners: Adopt-A-Drain, Audubon Neighborhood Association, City of Minneapolis

Staff Contact:

Adam Flett
Communications and Outreach Specialist
Email Adam Flett
View Bio

Keeping our stormdrains clean can be a tough task, but it’s one that has been taken on by stormdrain adopters all over Minnesota. Our stormdrains carry away water when it rains — along with whatever pollutants might be on our streets, lawns, and buildings. These pollutants flow untreated into the Mississippi River and other waterbodies. By adopting a stormdrain, community members can help remove these would-be pollutants. Our most recent Mini Grant helps address this in Northeast Minneapolis neighborhoods.

The Northeast Adopt-A-Drain Challenge aims to get more residents involved in cleaning out stormdrains. By working through neighborhood groups, the challenge is designed to reach community members at a grassroots level and help local organizations build community connections while helping the environment. Ultimately, the goal is to remove as much trash and debris from the stormdrains as possible.

As a part of the Adopt-A-Drain program, people can adopt a local stormdrain and commit to cleaning out leaves, trash, soil, and other debris that accumulates after rainfall events. Volunteers are encouraged to adopt drains, clear them of pollutants, weigh the contents, and then report back to the statewide organizers to help measure the program’s impacts on water quality.

In 2020, the challenge found incredible success in spite of challenges present by the COVID-19 pandemic. Adopting stormdrains is well-suited to individual or small group volunteerism, resulting in 159 people adopting 260 stormdrains across Northeast Minneapolis. Collectively, 2,750 pounds of debris was removed and prevented from running off to the Mississippi River. Each neighborhood’s impacts and activities are detailed in this review of the challenge.

Over the course of  2021 (the second year of the challenge), the number of adopted drains, number of times a drain has been cleaned, and amount of debris removed will be tracked by each neighborhood. In the end, each participating neighborhood will be able to see their results, both as a neighborhood and as across Northeast Minneapolis.

The challenge was initiated in 2020 by Michelle Spangler (a Minnesota Water Steward) and the Audubon Neighborhood Association, who partnered with the City of Minneapolis, the Adopt-A-Drain Program (Hamline University), and the MWMO. Other neighborhood groups and organizations are also joining in on the challenge in 2021 and going forward, helping to spread the impact from local volunteers across Northeast Minneapolis.

Northeast residents looking for more information should contact their local neighborhood organization or group to see if they can be a part of the challenge. Further information can be found here or by contacting MWMO Communications and Outreach Specialist Adam Flett.

See more photos of this project on Flickr.

Northeast Adopt-a-Drain