Adopt A Storm Drain Program

Adopt a storm drain near your home, work or school. Storm drains lead straight to our waterways, so keeping them clean and maintained helps improve Lexington's many creeks. Only rain should go down storm drains!

When you adopt your storm drain, you pledge to:

  • Keep your storm drain clear of leaves, litter and other debris.
  • Stencil a "no pollution" message on your storm drain (see below).
  • Call LexCall at (859) 425-2255 or make a report online if your storm drain is cracked, crumbling or floods when it rains. 

Adopt your storm drain now! Share photos of your adopted storm drain with the hashtag #OnlyRain and be sure to tag @LiveGreenLex on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Volunteer to stencil storm drains

Many people do not know that storm drains lead directly to our waterways. Stenciling storm drains educates residents so that everyone knows that pollutants don't belong in storm drains.

What happens when pollutants reach our waterways?

  • The chemicals in pesticides, antifreeze, and motor oil can harm water quality.
  • Sediment from erosion or construction activity can cause “dirt pollution” in our waterways that can block sunlight from underwater plants and clog fish gills.
  • Fertilizers, pet waste, and decomposing yard waste can cause too much algae growth in streams.
  • Pet waste can pollute our waters with fecal bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. 

How can storm drain stenciling help?

Many people mistakenly believe that storm drains empty into the same sewer system that carries wastewater from toilets and sinks, but this is not true. Storm drains lead directly to our streams and the Kentucky River.  

Storm drain stenciling helps educate residents about water quality and tells people not to pour any chemicals or wastes down storm inlets or drains. The stencil also provides a constant reminder that our storm drains lead straight to local waterways and that dumping can pollute those waters.

How do you decide what drains to stencil?

In Fayette County, all seven urban and one rural watershed contain storm sewers and have streams that are impaired. This means that a stream that should be used for fishing can't be, or a stream that should be safe for swimming isn't. Because all of our streams will benefit from increased water quality, all of our watersheds are of equal priority. Additionally, we want to encourage volunteers to participate all over Lexington. 

Enter your address to find storm drains to stencil in your neighborhood.

Storm drain stenciling how-to

Before you get started with stenciling, email for a map of the area you plan to stencil. There are over 20,000 storm drains and inlets in Lexington, so we don’t want to go to the same place twice!

Due to safety concerns, we suggest that you stencil in teams of 2 – 4 people. This allows at least one person to stencil while one person watches for traffic.

The Division of Environmental Services has stenciling kits to sign out. Stenciling kits must be requested at least one week in advance. A stenciling team leader will need to pick up the kit(s) from the Government Center at 200 East Main Street.

The materials included in the stenciling kit are:
(1) “Dump No Waste, Drains to Stream” stencil
(2) cans of blue spray paint
Painter's tape (to hold down stencil while you paint)
Wire brush
(2) orange traffic cones
(5) safety vests
Map(s) of the area to stencil

Now you are ready to stencil! Make sure you and your team are wearing clothes and shoes that won’t be hurt by a little bit of paint and dirt.

Follow the steps below to stencil:

  • Locate storm drains and inlets in your map area. Do not stencil storm drains that are on private property or UK’s campus without prior approval.
  • Place orange cones on either side of the storm drain. This helps you be visible to traffic. Have one team member watch for oncoming cars.
  • Choose an area of the storm structure large enough to contain the text of the stencil and that will be highly visible. If the storm drain has a very small surface, you can stencil on the street in front of it. Put safety first – if there is no safe place to stencil out of the way of traffic, skip that drain and move to the next.
  • Sweep the area to be stenciled with the wire broom to remove loose dirt and ensure the surface is free of oils.
  • Place the stencil on the surface and tape down corners to ensure the stencil does not move during painting. You can use the rocks to help.
  • Paint stencil with the spray can 6 – 8 inches from the surface. Too close will cause paint to deflect behind the stencil leaving the text uneven and difficult to read. Apply one or two coats of blue spray paint.
  • Remove the tape from one corner and pull up the edge of the stencil to check for good coverage.
  • Mark the drain you have stenciled on your map or tally it on your form and move on to your next drain.
  • When you are finished, return the stenciling kit and all maps or papers, with drains marked, to the Government Center.
  • When you are finished stenciling, please fill out this survey so that we can continue to improve our program.

Artistic storm drains

Explore Lexington's storm drain murals
Volunteers who would like to paint artistic storm drains should follow the safety guidelines outlined in the storm drain stenciling how-to. These projects require these additional steps:

  • Storm drain locations and a sketch of the artwork must be submitted to at least two weeks in advance of the project date.
  • Storm drain art should be related to water quality or environmental issues. School or artist logos must be approved in advance and cannot be larger than 6"x6".
  • If the drain is in front of a business, the lead volunteer should obtain written or email permission from the property owner before painting.
  • If the drain is in a residential area, the lead volunteer should obtain written or email permission from the neighborhood or homeowner association (if applicable) and the homeowner closest to the drain before painting.
  • If volunteers would like to paint a drain or stormwater outfall in a city park, the lead volunteer should obtain written or email permission from Lexington Parks & Recreation through Michelle at
  • Spray paint may be used for artistic storm drains. Submit color preferences to Jennifer at least one week in advance of the project date. Volunteers are permitted to buy their own paint if they would prefer something other than spray paint.
  • If there is a yellow stripe on the storm drain, it cannot be painted over.
  • Submit photos of the finished drains. Photos of the work being done are encouraged and may be shared, with volunteer permission, on the Live Green Lexington social media pages.