Stewardship—Storm Drain Marking

Summary: Many people erroneously believe storm drains connect to sewer treatment systems. But in most communities, whatever enters the drains is discharged directly into a neighboring body of water (lake, river or bay) without benefit of treatment. In this activity, students mark storm drains to warn citizens not to dump polluting materials.

Concepts to teach: Storm drain, pollution, public awareness

Goals: Students take what they have learned about nonpoint source pollution and storm drain routes and devise an action plan that will improve the health of the ecosystem. They mark storm drains to increase public awareness of watershed pollution concerns.


Specific Objectives:

  1. Identify unmarked local storm drains and determine where the waters end up.
  2. Obtain marking materials and work with local officials to gain permission to mark storm drains.
  3. Stencil/mark storm drains and document the activity through written articles and photos for the local media.

Activity Links and Resources:

  • Use Stormwater Pathways topic guide to learn about local stormdrains and their routes.
  • Remember to get permission from the city BEFORE marking storm drains.
  • The Storm Drain Marking how-to video from Clark County, Washington explains what is needed to embark on a storm drain marking project. Ask your local county about the procedures, materials, and programs available in your area. Some areas may have programs tailored to student groups.
  • Oregon Surfrider often holds storm drain marking events.
  • Portland has more than 55,000 storm drains that can be located using a searchable map
  • Students document the activity through reports, photographs, and video and share the information with the local media.


  • Students present information to local officials explaining the need and rationale for storm drain marking.
  • Students document their storm drain marking activity through reports, photographs and video, and share the information with the local media.