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Sustainable Stillwater urges residents to adopt storm drains

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

Have you adopted your nearest storm drain? Find your home location on a map here: Sweep up and remove debris before it falls in. Be a good Stillwater citizen — and as a taxpayer, you might just save yourself some money!

The city of Stillwater receives a budget of more than a half-million dollars annually ($587,000 in the most recent year online, 2017) to keep the storm sewers working. As taxpayers, we ask: How can we have a great St. Croix River, great city lakes, and lower taxes?

Since stormwater systems require periodic maintenance, the answer is to require less maintenance. Here’s how we as citizens can pitch in with some simple steps:

  1. Manage properties so that sediments and pollutants do not enter the stormwater system.

  2. Use deep-rooted plants in landscaping to decrease the volume of stormwater runoff and let plants hold soil in place without added extra chemicals.

  3. Adopt your nearest storm drain to reduce sand, dirt, and litter. Sign up at Adopt-a )

  4. Create or adopt existing rain gardens to reduce stormwater volume. (Sign up at )

  5. 5. Keep curbs and driveways clear of sand, dirt, plant litter, general litter, and chemicals. In built environments such as cities, reduce unnatural processes: Sediments and winter street sand collect in our streets, take up space in our stormwater ponds, and need to be removed.

Sweeping small areas regularly with a broom is less expensive than vacuuming wet muck from a stormwater pond. Chemical items such as street salt, fertilizers, weedkiller, and vehicle fluids are part of modern life but are very expensive to remove from stormwater.

Minimize chemical pollution in stormwater runoff. Use commercial car washes — they treat the wash water before it goes down the drain.

Biological items such as grass clippings, leaves, pine cones, and needles normally decompose to enrich the soil, but become litter on our driveways, sidewalks, and streets and get washed into water bodies. Keep these surfaces swept. Litter: Reduce, reuse and recycle. While stormwater treatment is inescapable, everyone can do a little to defray costs and reduce harm to nature.

The St. Croix River is still our friend, despite decades of “abuse” from street runoff. The river and the little streams and ponds that lead to it, greet us every morning and throughout the day, bubbling and gurgling to delight us as we walk the bridges and trails. Each one of us can do something to protect it, and we might just save money too.

Join Sustainable Stillwater MN, a nonprofit 501c3 organization, as we work to improve the quality of life and our natural environment. Sign up for our newsletter at


Louise Watson, Sustainable Stillwater MN is a 501c3 nonprofit organization working to make Stillwater more green, sustainable, and resilient.

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