HOW TO: What are guidelines for inspecting my drain and removing debris?

It’s Easy!  Here’s How It Works!

  1. Monitor the adopted drain weekly and remove debris on and around the drain as needed- particularly before a rain or storm event if it is safe to do so.
  2. Clear debris within the curb area several yards along each side of the storm drain, especially an uphill side where debris will likely flow towards the drain.
  3. Report your efforts!  Let us know you have inspected your drains by periodically submitting a simple “Field Inspection Report” (mobile friendly).  The report is simple and asks whether a drain needed service or not.  You can attach pictures to the report too.  For example, if you service the drain, consider uploading a "before" and "after" image to the report.  

Learn more about the Field Inspection Report


  • When possible, clear your storm drain prior to, and following, any rainfall.
  • Always sweep, rake or shovel glass. Never pick up sharp objects with your hands.
  • Never touch hazardous or medical waste including automotive fluids and hypodermic needles. Report these items and anything else that may be hazardous to the non-emergency police number at 843-577-7434.
  • Garbage bags, buckets, brooms and landscaping gloves are generally helpful when inspecting and cleaning a storm drain.
  • Sweep material away from the storm drain, not into it — and capture it for disposal as you can.
  • To the extent possible, place recyclables and garbage into your residential bins (or commercial bins if you’re adopting near your workplace).
  • Clear surface debris only; let City of Charleston Stormwater crews handle garbage or hazards inside the catch basin.
  • Clear debris within the curb area several yards along each side of the storm drain, especially the uphill side.
  • Do not use power tools. Carry tools carefully to avoid hitting others. Always use the right tools for the job.
  • Please complete and send a Field Inspection Report after inspecting and servicing your adopted drain. Click on your adopted drain send a report.
  • Never attempt to clear debris if there is moving water greater than knee deep or that prevents you from having a clear view of the drain.
  • Be cautious when walking on potential slippery and uneven surfaces.


  • Call 911 for emergencies. If injured while volunteering, please immediately seek necessary medical attention.
  • Safety comes first!
  • Wear durable or heavy, closed toe, shoes/boots, preferably with ankle support.
  • Wear gloves and durable pants, tops, jackets, and hats.
  • Always stay hydrated.
  • Wash hands and any clothing after contact with stormwater runoff, which can contain pollutants, including bacteria. Have first aid supplies available.
  • Clear immediately in front of and the area several yards along each side of your adopted storm drain only when safe. If a drain is still clogged after you removed the surface debris, please contact Operations at 843-724-7367 or submit a request online to have the drain mechanically cleaned.
  • Make sure an adult is present and supervising any person under the age of eighteen who may be assisting with the inspection and cleaning of a storm drain.
  • DO NOT attempt to, remove, lift, move or reset a storm drain grate, cap, or lid. They are very heavy, can cause injury, and most likely will cause an injury.
  • Always be courteous to fellow volunteers and neighborhood residents; never use vulgar language or engage in threatening or disruptive actions or conversation.


  • Wear highly visible, brightly colored or reflective clothing to alert traffic and drivers of your presence near the road.
  • Where possible, stay out of the street. Work from the sidewalk or curbside and watch for traffic.
  • Do not clear drains in the middle of any street.
  • Do not inspect or clean drains at night.
  • Walk across streets at signals and crosswalks, not mid-block. Always work with a partner.
  • Do not go into storm drains and do not block travel lanes.
  • Work facing traffic.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, make sure to watch for cars; whenever possible, work with a partner who can watch for traffic hazards while you are cleaning the storm drain.

Show All Answers

1. I'm excited to participate! How do I officially adopt a storm drain?
2. Who can adopt a drain?
3. Can I adopt a drain in an area other than where I live or work?
4. Is there a limit to the number of drains I can adopt?
5. Why are some drains not available for adoption?
6. How do I access the web portal on my mobile device?
7. It looks like not all City and County storm drains are showing up on the map for me to adopt. Why is that?
8. How can I get a "Don't Pollute" marker for my drain?
9. How often should I clean my adopted drain(s)?
10. HOW TO: What are guidelines for inspecting my drain and removing debris?
11. Tell me more about the Field Inspection Report, is it easy to fill out?
12. My drain is too full to clean manually. What should I do?
13. When cleaning my adopted drains, how do I know what is trash and what is garbage?
14. Can I un-adopt my drain?
15. Why is it important to keep storm drains clear and clean?