TCNJ freshman mechanical engineering major Liam Curran is working with his hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey to reduce pollution and flooding as a result of clogged storm drains.
Curran launched his “Adopt a Drain” program in 2021 as part of his Eagle Scout service project. He then collaborated with Ramsey’s Environmental Commission on a website, ramseyadoptadrain.org, and registry where residents can find useful information, help identify draining problems around town, and sign up to volunteer.
“Municipal storm drains exist for the sole purpose of collecting stormwater and directing it away from areas where it might cause flooding, and into nearby ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams,” Curran said, “That means that whatever goes into those storm drains ends up in those ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams and, eventually, in our drinking water.”
Ramsey has approximately 1,100 storm drains throughout the town, but has limited resources to keep them all clean and free of debris. Curran’s program supplements the efforts of the Department of Public Works to provide a solution to a complex problem that many towns are facing. So far approximately 150 drains have been adopted.
“The citizens of Ramsey are generally very involved people that are proud of our town,” Curran said. “If enough residents participate in this program, we will be able to make a big difference. I have seen many times in scouting how really great things can get accomplished when enough people show up to help.”
The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 60 percent of water pollution can be traced to stormwater. When a storm drain is not functioning properly, it leads to flooding, safety issues, and unsightly litter. It is very important, both from an environmental standpoint, and from a local nuisance perspective, that storm drains remain clear of litter, leaves, pet waste, grass clippings, and other debris.
In addition to educating the public about the importance of keeping storm drains clean, the Adopt a Drain Program encourages residents, families, businesses, clubs, and other groups to pitch in and “adopt” one or more drains from around the town that they commit keep clean.
— Luke Sacks