Adopt-A-Drain Program

Did you know that storm drains lead directly into our waterways? Keeping drains clear of litter, leaves, and other debris protects rivers from pollution and ensures that our streets don’t flood.


Help keep our waterways clean by adopting a drain in your neighborhood!

Through Chelsea’s Adopt-a-Drain program, residents can volunteer to care for a local storm drain and check on it before and after heavy rain, wind, or snow. Click here to adopt your drain!

What is an Adopt-a-Drain program? What does it mean to adopt a drain?
An Adopt-a-Drain program is a volunteer program that helps keep our local environment clean and healthy. Participants sign up to adopt a drain (or drains!) and then check on that drain before and after heavy rain, wind, or snow. Any extra care is even better! Anything that goes down the drain ends up in the Mystic River or Chelsea Creek, which is why this program is so helpful. Keeping the drains clear can also help prevent streets from flooding as it ensures that water can freely flow down the drain.

What am I adopting? What is a storm drain?
Storm drains are the grates you see in streets and roads. They’ll be to the side of the road, along the curb, and in Chelsea are typically square or rounded toward the street. Since asphalt and pavement can’t absorb water, any rain and melting snow flow along the street and into these drains. A basin below the grates, called a catch basin, is meant to collect this water and any debris but it can fill up quickly and doesn’t capture everything. Water that goes into the drains – and anything in that water, like trash – doesn’t get treated or go to a wastewater plant, instead, it empties into nearby water bodies. However, some towns and cities such as Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Chelsea make use of a combined sewer system in places. In this case, stormwater runoff mixes with sanitary sewage and the mixture flows to the wastewater treatment plant. During heavy storms, excessive volumes of stormwater may enter the system resulting in a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). A CSO results in the sewage discharging along with stormwater to public waters such as the Mystic River and Chelsea Creek. Ensuring that drains are free of debris can greatly reduce the strain on the sewer system that can lead to a CSO occurring.

How can I get involved?
Just head to our website to sign up! Find a drain by typing in a nearby address or by dragging the map. If the drain you want to adopt is available, you can claim it by clicking on it. Sign up for the program, give your drain a name, and keep an eye out for a welcome email with more info! You can adopt as many drains as you would like to care for.

How can I learn more about stormwater and our environment?
There are lots of great resources to learn more about stormwater, pollution, the Mystic River, and our environment! Our Stormwater Management page is a great place to learn more about Chelsea stormwater. Another good source for information about the river and surrounding environment is the Mystic River Watershed Association, which you can find at their website.