It's easy to see the appeal of this kind of civic action, especially when it comes with the right to give "your" storm drain cutesy names, like Lana Del Drain or Drainmond Green. The feel-good PR campaign obfuscates a grimmer reality, though. San Francisco's antiquated stormwater system is prone to flooding, particularly in low-lying areas, and specifically flooding that contains raw sewage. The problem will only get worse in the face of storms enhanced by climate change. Which makes Adopt-a-Drain the paper straw of flood management, a gesture that's as lovely as it is inadequate. [...]
Despite the existential threat, the utilities commission continues to focus much of its public messaging on the importance of individual action, rather than fast-tracking major infrastructure projects. Sweiss told SFGATE that climate change "requires everyone to do their part," suggesting that residents sign up for Adopt-a-Drain and apply for grants to help pay for "improvements on their property that help protect against flooding during heavy rainstorms." [...]
The truth is, "rain guardians" and "Drain Daddies" are band-aids on a leaking dam. It's up to our local government to take far bolder action to protect its citizens now, before it's too late -- not push convenient distractions, like naming drains.
Civic programs can't save SF's antiquated sewers from flooding:
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