Q. What is a great way to help keep your community clean, promote
stormwater management, and keep our stormwater infrastructure
as resilient as possible, all with just a few minutes of your time?
A. Participate in the Berkeley Heights Adopt-A-Drain Program!
Berkeley Heights joins Westfield as the first two municipalities on the East Coast to help pilot the Adopt-A-Drain program as it grows its national scope.
Based out of Hamline University’s Center for Global Environmental Education, the Adopt-A-Drain program has been rolled out to approximately 40 communities in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area, as well as Seattle, WA and Braintree, MA. Truly, we are leading the way!
The Adopt-A-Drain program offers Berkeley Heights community members the opportunity to assist with stormwater management on a town-wide level. The more people who pitch in and remove leaves and litter from drains in town, the less likely this litter is to wind up falling into these drains, which means less pollution of our waterways and less clogging of our storm drains.
Stormwater Runoff and Stormwater Management
If you picture Berkeley Heights as one long mountain, residents who live in lower elevation areas, such as at the bottom of hills, or near tributaries to the Passaic River, may be subject to stormwater runoff – water from heavy rains - that flows to their streets, backyards, and residences. For those residents near such tributaries, litter in the Passaic River tributaries not only can travel along the waterway and end up in their backyards, but this litter can also cause back-ups and “mini-dams,” resulting in flooding to these residents’ properties.
With residents helping to reduce the amount of litter that falls into storm drains, there will be less litter in our stormwater infrastructure. This litter removal, in turn, will keep our stormwater infrastructure more litter-free, which may help to reduce the amount of flooding certain residents experience.
How This Project Complements DPW’s Services and Helps to Preserve Our Stormwater Infrastructure
Our Department of Public Works (DPW) cleans all drains in town on a rotational basis. However, any intermittent assistance that residents can provide between DPW’s cleanings will assist in keeping drains in town cleaner and clear from litter, leaves, sticks, and other debris on a more regular basis. The Adopt-A-Drain program, therefore, will complement the DPW’s regular drain cleanings.
Moreover, having less litter and tree debris blocking our storm drains will result in less wear and tear on our stormwater infrastructure. Stormwater infrastructure replacement can be highly expensive. With robust participation in the Adopt-A-Drain program, residents’ drain cleanings can collectively be small steps that add up to huge savings.
Everyone is Welcome to Participate
Anyone can participate in the Adopt-A-Drain program, regardless of their age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, fitness level, etc. All members of our community are welcome to adopt a drain. Participation is free. The Berkeley Heights Adopt-A-Drain program seeks to provide open access, as well as a similar opportunity and experience, for everyone in town. The program is a great way for all to volunteer their efforts and help make our town a cleaner, more beautiful, and more resilient place.
Results So Far
Here is a report highlighting Berkeley Heights' results for 2021, including what has been collected and how many are participating. Thank you to everyone who has participated so far, and for reporting your collections!
We hope you will join us in participating in this great program!
How to sign up to adopt your drain
Sign up is easy. You can use your phone, computer, or any other device to access the Internet and do the following:
Visit nj.adopt-a-drain.org. Click on the orange "Adopt a Drain" button.
Be aware that this may not be the default page; you may need to type in this link.
Type in your address to find a drain near you.
Go to the interactive map.
Available drains appear in yellow.
Already-adopted drains appear in blue.
Anyone who clicks on a blue pin will see the pin turn red and pop up with a message card that says “[The Drain’s Name] is already adopted by [The Group’s/Organization’s Name].”
Click on an available drain of your choosing, and then click on the pink "Adopt Drain" bar that appears in the pop-up.
You will be taken to a Sign-Up page.
Create your account profile and click on the "Register" button on the bottom.
You will be sent a verification e-mail.
You will need to respond to this e-mail within 1 hour to complete your onboarding process.
Note: The verification e-mail will contain important information regarding who you can contact if you need help with either the Adopt-A-Drain website or have a drain cleaning-related issue.
You will then be able to go to your personal dashboard page, where all of the drains you have adopted will be displayed.
On this page, you can report your drain cleanings, adopt additional drains, or re-name any of your drains.
Reporting a Cleaning - Once you clean your drain, just login to the Adopt-A-Drain website, click on the “Track Impact” button that appears under your drain’s name, then click on the “Add a Cleaning” button, and complete the four very basic, multiple choice questions you’re asked (e.g., how long did it take you to do the cleaning, what was the majority of the stuff you picked up – trash, leaves, etc.).
The next time you visit the site, just login. Your dashboard will then pop up.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How do I adopt a drain?
Adopting a drain is easy. All you need is a phone, computer, or other device where you can access the Internet. Just follow the instructions in the Sign Up tab.
2. Do I need to download an app to sign-up?
No. Just go to the website listed in the instructions below to create your account.
3. How long does it take to sign up, and what is the cost?
It only takes a few minutes to sign-up. There is not cost; participation is free.
4. If I adopt a drain, what are my responsibilities and time commitment?
By adopting a drain, you are volunteering and committing to do the following:
- Cleaning your drain
- Select the regular interval (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) on the drop-down menu when you adopt your drain. It should take approximately 5 – 10 minutes for you to clean your drain, as well as one or two feet on either side of it.
- Reporting your drain cleaning
- After you’ve done a cleaning, log into your account and answer the four, very simple multiple-choice questions. The questions should take you less than 5 minutes to complete.
5. What drains can I adopt?
You can adopt any drain in Berkeley Heights that has not already been adopted.
WARNING: As a matter of safety, the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC) strongly recommends that you adopt a drain on a non-busy street (e.g. not on Mountain Avenue, Park Avenue, Plainfield Avenue, Snyder Avenue, Union Avenue, Diamond Hill Road, or Glenside Road).
6. Can I adopt more than one drain?
7. Is there a limit to the number of drains I can adopt?
8. If I adopt a drain near my house, what precautions should I take when naming it?
Be creative! You can name your drain whatever you’d like (as long as the name is not vulgar or otherwise inappropriate).
Warning: Consider that many people will be viewing the “drain map.” As a matter of privacy, if you don’t want people to know where you or your family members live, consider not using your family name or names of those in your household in your drain’s name.
- Example #1 of what NOT to do
- The Jones family lives at 350 Timber Drive. They adopt a drain near their front lawn and name it “The Jones Family Drain”. Now, everyone who sees the name of that drain will know that the Jones family lives at or near 350 Timber Drive.
- Example #2 of what NOT to do
- The Jones family lives at 350 Timber Drive. The members of the Jones family include Fred (father), Mary (mother), Diane (daughter), and Steve (son). They name their drain “Fred, Mary, Diane, and Steve’s Drain”. Now, everyone who sees the name of that will know the first names of people who live at or near 350 Timber Drive.
9. What if I live in an apartment complex or don’t live near a drain. Is it okay for me to adopt a drain elsewhere in town?
10. What equipment will I need in order to clean my drain?
The BHEC wants you to remain safe during the drain cleaning process. Accordingly, the BHEC recommends that you use the following items:
- At a Minimum
- Gloves (a sturdy pair that sharp objects will not cut through)
- Glow-in-the-dark / reflective vest
11. What do I do with all of the stuff that I collect that was on my drain?
Please sort the items you collect into the following categories, and dispose of them appropriately:
- Bottles (plastic or glass) and cans
- Put these in your Recycling Bins
- Dry newspapers and other dry paper goods
- Put these in your Recycling Bins
- Plastic bags, plastic wrappers, and other thin film plastics
- Recycle these with your other thin film plastics (for locations of where to recycle thin film plastics, please visit the Recycling Thin Film Plastics page).
- Leaves, grass clippings, wet newspapers, muck, and other junk
- Put these in a garbage bag and throw out with your garbage
12. What if I see a newspaper, bottle, tire, or other item stuck in my drain? Should I bend down and try to fish it out?
Warning: The BHEC wants you and your family members to remain safe at all times. If you see something that does not belong in your drain, please contact the Berkeley Heights Department of Public Works (DPW), at (908) 464-2700 x2167.
13. If I am a business, what benefit do I get from participation in this program?
By participating in this program, you will
- Gain free publicity,
- Increase your sustainability footprint, and
- Assist Berkeley Heights in its stormwater management efforts
Warning: The BHEC recommends that if your business is on a main road, you adopt a drain on a nearby side street or parking lot near your business. This will reduce your risk of being in harm’s way when you clean your drain.
Take Pictures of You Cleaning Your Drain for Posting
The BHEC wants to encourage robust participation in this program. We would like to populate this page with pictures of you / your family / your group cleaning your drain(s)! Please take pictures and send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: By sending the BHEC your pictures, you explicitly consent to the BHEC’s use of your photo for posting on this website and for use in other publications. If there are any minors in the pictures you submit, you explicitly consent to having the image of such minors appear on this website or in any publication in which the such picture may appear.
Top 50 BEST DRAIN NAMES contest
Winners Announced in Adopt-A-Drain “Top 50 Best Drain Names” Contest:
Drain Parents and Family Members Win Prize Rake, Photo Op with Mayor
On Monday, April 4 at Town Hall, proud drain parents and family members gathered to hear their drains’ names announced as the winners of the Adopt-A-Drain “Top 50 Drain Names” Contest. Winners received two prizes: a prize rake for their creative drain name, and an opportunity for a photo op with Mayor Angie Devanney. As Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC) Co-Chair Kim Diamond read the names of each drain name winner, Mayor Devanney presented a rake to the person or family who adopted that drain. Kids, adults, and entire families came up to claim their prizes in the Town Council chamber.
The contest, sponsored by the BHEC, was a way to raise awareness of the Adopt-A-Drain program in town that launched in third quarter 2021. It was also a means to spur further program participation, encourage community members to have fun and get creative, and provide a way to thank community members for assisting in helping to keep Berkeley Heights streets and storm drains clean.
Drain names were quite creative. Some drain names were plays on television show names and actors, such as Pinky and the Drain and Drain “The Rock” Johnson. Others added a unique, drain-like twist to songs, giving a nod to Guns N’ Roses with November Drain, to Prince with Prince Purple Drain, and to both Bach and Jethro Tull with Boureén, Street in E Minor. And, some drain names added a humorous twist to some otherwise not-so-humorous drain conditions, including The Frisbee Pit and Chateau Raccoon.
“While we navigate our way through these times of COVID, the Berkeley Heights Adopt-A-Drain program offers residents a way to engage in their own private clean-ups of sorts, right outside of their front doors,” said Diamond. “By adopting a drain, families can go to a storm drain on their street or anywhere in Berkeley Heights, keep socially distanced from others to minimize COVID risk, and bond with their family while helping to keep our town clean and our stormwater infrastructure from getting clogged with fallen leaves, trash and other litter. Not only does this help our community’s streets to look well-kept throughout the year, but it also reduces stormwater runoff and storm drain back-ups in our community.”
In 2021, the Berkeley Heights Adopt-A-Drain program received a $2,000 Sustainable Jersey Grant funded by the PSE&G Foundation. This funding enabled the Center for Global Environmental Education at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, the organization that runs the national Adopt-A-Drain program, to upload the GIS data for all storm drains in Berkely Heights and create an interactive map with the location of each drain in town.
To “adopt” a drain, the drain adopter goes to this interactive map, selects the drain they want to adopt, names the drain, and commits to cleaning the drain on a regular basis – weekly, monthly, or quarterly, whatever is most convenient. The drain adopter also commits to reporting their clean-ups by answering just more than several multiple choice questions. Sign-up for the program is free, easy, and can be done via computer or iPhone. People of all ages, no matter where they live or work in town, can participate. To sign up to adopt a drain, or to get additional information about the Adopt-A-Drain program, please visit the BHEC website, at https://www.berkeleyheights.gov/1492/Adopt-a-Drain.
Cleanings that drain adopters perform help to supplement – not replace – the regular drain cleanings that the Berkeley Heights Department of Public Works (DPW) conducts. The DPW, as well as Berkeley Heights Business & Civic, supports and encourages the Adopt-A-Drain program. In fact, several businesses have adopted drains.
Berkeley Heights and Westfield are the only two towns in NJ that are participating in the national Adopt-A-Drain program, leading the state in this countrywide initiative. To date, of the 2,581 storm drains in Berkeley Heights, 163 (approximately 6.5% of all drains) have been adopted. Since the program’s launch, 769 pounds of leaves, trash, and litter have been collected, rather than literally going down the drain and clogging the stormwater infrastructure.
Winning drain names were selected by BHEC members, on anonymized ballots that Hamline University created, so that only identifying information on the ballot was the drain’s name and its unique Berkeley Heights drain identification number. Once the voting results were in, Hamline University sent an e-mail to the Top 50 Drain Name winners. Because nine drains belonging to various BHEC members were included as winners, and because BHEC members exempted themselves from receiving a prize, the next nine drains names were added as winners so that a total of 50 rake winners could be reached. To showcase the creativity of these drain names, all 59 drain names are listed below, in random order.
Top 50 Drain Names - Winners List (in random order)
- Blame It on the Drain
- Drainy McDrainface
- Purple Drain, Purple Drain
- Pinky and the Drain
- Tunnel of Love
- To the Creek and Beyond!
- Thin Mint
- Dragon's Lair
- Donatello's Drain
- Drain "The Rock" Johnson
- The Brain Drain
- The Frisbee Pit
- The Quiet Drain
- Sun Drain
- Drain McSwirl
- Bamboo No More
- Wayne the Drain
- Dwayne the Drain
- Well Taken Care of for 34 Years
- Keep Oak Ridge Clean
- Don't Drain on My Parade
- Prince Purple Drain
- Not Your Average Drain
- Banking that Doesn't Go Down the Drain
- First Drain on the Right Going Down Hill
- The Wood Shed
- November Drain
- Mt. Sycamore
- Top of the Mountain
- King Gulpalotacus I, the Mighty Chugger of the Realm
- Ursula's Braces
- Boureén, Street in E Minor
- Environmental Club Storm Drain #1
- Chateau Raccoon
- Down to Earth
- Drainy McDrainface
- Eddie Wetter
- Gallinson Great Grate
- The Gallinson Gulper
- My Mother-in-Law
- Purple Percolating Pet
- Teo's Scout Drain
- Big Red Drain
- Sparky 3
- Jim's Drain
- Susie Q park 1
- Pack 368