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Flooding complaints are draining away

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(Mike Koozmin – San Francisco/2014 S.F. Examiner)

Flood-related service requests to the city have fallen dramatically below anticipated levels due to the success of the ‘Adopt a Drain’ program, officials said Thursday.

Newly released data shows that calls to 311 concerning street flooding were 36 percent lower than expected between 2016 and 2018.

City officials are attributing some of that decrease to the Adopt a Drain program, which debuted in 2016 and allows San Francisco residents to adopt and maintain one of the 25,000 drains in the city. So far 2,900 drains have been adopted.

The past two years dumped 20 percent more rain on the city than the period of 2014 to 2015, which only saw 2,970 flood related calls to 311.

The additional rain, alongside a 40 percent growth in the total number of all 311 requests, prompted the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to predict that flood-specific 311 calls would grow to around 4,990.

However, city residents have made a significant impact on reducing flood related issues surrounding clogged drains, according to the SFPUC.

“These drain adopters come from all walks of life, they are from all communities, ages and ethnicities. It’s a really diverse group of people,” said Will Reisman, SFPUC press secretary.

While complaints are down, the number of ‘drain adopters’ are trending up. The past four months have seen 200 additional volunteers join the program, bringing the total to 1,800.

Jose Rosas, a retired physician and San Francisco resident of 20 years, has volunteered as a ‘drain daddy’ since the end of 2016. He believes that using the extra time retirement has provided to help his neighborhood has elevated his sense of self-esteem, dignity and happiness.

“Don’t think twice when there is an opportunity to help. I would encourage people to volunteer,” he said. “It will make you feel much better as a person.”

Volunteers are provided with basic training and equipment, such as vets, rakes, gloves and buckets. SFPUC also holds appreciation events in the form of special facility tours and tool giveaways, the next event will be held in May.

Interested residents who wish to adopt a drain can do so at the following link, https://adoptadrain.sfwater.org/

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