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Meet ‘Drain the Rock Johnson’ and ‘Shania Drain’ — Somerville storm drains ‘adopted’ and named as part of a new city program

The “Adopt-a-drain” program asks people to tend to storm drains so they don’t get backed up during and after big storms and cause flooding. Those who have signed up have been getting creative and giving the sewer grates unique names.

A view of the map that shows where storm drains in Somerville have been adopted.City of Somerville

This story first appeared as a column in Camberville & beyond, our free weekly newsletter that contains links to interesting stories and events happening in Cambridge and Somerville. If you’d like to receive it via email every Thursday morning, sign up here!

In partnership with the Mystic River Watershed Association, Somerville officials recently announced a new initiative where people and businesses can “adopt” storm drains in their neighborhoods (think: Adopt-a-Hydrant), making them responsible for cleaning, clearing, and tending to the catch basins before and after big storms and weather events to mitigate flooding.


But to sweeten the deal — because let’s be honest, getting tricked into cleaning junk out of a drain for free sounds a little Tom Sawyer-y — they left it up to new storm drain parents to name their sewer children whatever they’d like.

In the first few weeks since the rollout, it appears residents have been quick to sign up for that opportunity — and they’ve been laying the puns on thick.

Curious about the volunteer program, we scrolled around on the virtual map that shows where the storm drains are located and what they’ve been dubbed. Sure enough, there was a steady stream of hilarious titles. Here are a few of our favorites:

“Drain The Rock Johnson”

“You’re So Drain”

“Insane in the Mem Drain”

“If I Only Had a Drain”

“Good Will Draining”

“Stormy Drain-iels”

“Shania Drain”

“Grate Expectations”

“Pennywise Vacation Home”

“Purple (D)rain”

“Pinky and the Drain”

“Emotionally Drained”

As of Tuesday, more than 250 drains had been “adopted” in the city, likely due to a mix of community pride and the opportunity to goof around a little bit on the internet. The incentive seems to be paying off.

The clever results are not unlike the ones we’ve seen emerge for snowplows and boats during contests in other places over the years, and it’s nice to see people here flexing their creativity in the same way — especially at a time when we could all use a bit of humor.


City officials agreed.

“Somerville would never let an opportunity to get funny and creative go down the drain. We’ve had so much fun reading all the names the Somerville community has come up with,” Lucica Hiller, stormwater program manager, and Brian Postlewaite, director of engineering, said in a joint statement. “We want to thank everyone for their enthusiastic response and their help keeping drains clear to mitigate street flooding.”

Since this column appeared in this week’s Camberville & beyond newsletter, residents in other areas have been asking their own municipalities to launch similar programs. And, in at least one case, the town of Wellesley has wondered if it could catch on there.

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him @steveannear.