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Minnesota (n)Ice: We lead the way in storm drain adoptions

Thousands of neighborhood heroes have stepped up to rescue storm drains from ice and debris, and that's worth celebrating.

MINNEAPOLIS — When a south Minneapolis intersection needed rescuing earlier this week, a hero dropped by ... and began dropping his ice chopper.

"It's just letting gravity do it's thing," said Ben Hovland.

Hovland doesn't consider himself a hero, but he does admit that the corner near his home was a mess rivaled only by the city's infamous Lake Chipotle. 

"It was basically curb to curb water," he said. "It just covered the whole street. I feel dumb not taking a before and after photo."

Instead, Hovland captured video of the entire process in between. He uploaded a time-lapse video of himself clearing the iced over storm drain that led to the whole mess. 

Within a few days, that 15 minutes of work turned into a viral video smash.

"I think on MPR's TikTok we're over a quarter of a million views," he said. "We're at about 100,000 on Instagram."

He said he's not completely sure why the video drew so much attention, but he knows it captured one of the more satisfying aspects of being a Minnesotan in a very short amount of time.

"I think a lot of people can probably share in that experience of either tip toeing around a flooded street or maybe even picking up a shovel and trying to clear a drain themselves," he said.

That is an understatement. For several years now, thousands of Minnesotans have logged on to Adopt-a-Drain Minnesota and signed up to rescue their neighborhood drain. The program has become such a success that it is the model for the rest of the nation.

"Minneapolis and the metro area is the largest in the country right now," said Ann Zawistoski, Program Manager for Adopt-a-Drain. "We have over 10,000 people in Minnesota that have said, 'yes' they want to help out. We have over 20,000 drains that have been adopted. Just in the last five days I've checked and we've had 75 new drains adopted, so it's a big movement." 

For those who are interested, Zawistoski says adopting a drain is about a lot more than just winter ice removal.

"Throughout the year, our drains go directly into our lakes and our rivers," she said. "So cleaning it out and getting the trash and the leaves and the pet waste out of that, that directly keeps those things out of our water that, we, in Minnesota love a whole lot as well." 

Since we also love naming things, it's worth mentioning that if you adopt a drain, you get to identify it.

"I really love the names that are Dwayne Johnson puns," Zawistoski said. "Drain "The Block" Johnson."

For the record, Hovland's good deed had nothing to do with naming rights.

Hovland: "I think this drain in particular has already been claimed by someone, but I was just kind of in the neighborhood. I saw a need, and why not? It was my day off.

Erdahl: "It takes a village." 

Hovland: "It does. I was adopted myself so I'm fine with it. Multiple people can adopt a drain a guess."

If you're interested in adopting a drain in your neighborhood, click here. The program has helped keep an estimated 564 thousand pounds of debris out of our lakes, streams and rivers. You can even set alerts that will remind you to check your drain.

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