Adopt Your Drain Program Launched In OC

OCEAN CITY – Plans to implement a volunteer-led storm drain cleaning program highlighted discussions at a resort committee meeting last week.

Last week, Ocean City Environmental Engineer Jenelle Gerthoffer presented members of the Ocean City Coastal Resources Legislative Committee (Green Team) with plans for a new Adopt Your Drain program.

Similar to popular resort cleanup programs such as Adopt Your Beach and Adopt Your Street, Gerthoffer said Adopt Your Drain would task volunteers with cleaning areas around storm drains.

“So the idea behind Adopt Your Drain would be to start this in the Montego Bay area, kind of as a case study, and see how it goes,” she said. “That’s where we get a lot of our drainage complaints, and it’s also an area of town where there’s a lot of density.”

Each fall, the town’s public works department works with a contractor to begin the task of cleaning out the resort’s storm drain system. Over a course of months, crews clean out thousands of linear feet of piping and hundreds of catch basins in multiple phases.

“As I’m sure you can expect, after a rainfall event, we get lots of calls about puddles and water sitting and water blocked up,” Gerthoffer told committee members. “Public works already does large cleanouts of the actual drain piping systems, but that’s not done on a daily basis. There’s no way they can do that.”

Gerthoffer said she had found a case study of an Adopt Your Drain program in Washington state. She said she wanted to present the idea to the Green Team first.

“I thought I would run it by everyone here to get your ideas,” she said. “From here, I want to go to public works and engineering.”

Gerthoffer said the Adopt Your Drain program would begin in Montego Bay, where volunteers could sign up to clean areas surrounding the community’s storm drains.

“I do want to put together some sort of handout and education on how to clean out,” she said. “I don’t want people going into the drains. But the biggest thing is getting debris – whether it’s yard debris that’s on the street just upstream from the drain or trying to get plastic that’s wrapped around the grate.”

She added that volunteers can also document the amount and type of debris they collect and submit it through the town’s Survey123 app.

“This is just another way to empower residents or visitors in becoming environmental stewards, just how the dune patrol, Adopt Your Beach, Adopt Your Street does,” she said.

Councilman Peter Buas, committee liaison, said he supported the proposal. He noted the public works department spent $100,000 a year cleaning out the storm drain system.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.