Minneapolis Department of Public Works

Public Works

350 South 5th Street
RM 203 City Hall
Minneapolis, MN  55415-1390

Catch Basin Stenciling

You can do your part to help improve the lakes, rivers and streams in Minneapolis!  Organize a group of volunteers to help educate the citizens of Minneapolis about simple steps they can take to improve the waters of our City.  Stenciling (painting) messages on City storm drain inlets (also known as catch basins) and distributing educational door hangers is a great way to do this. 

Most people would never dream of polluting a local body of water on purpose.  Unfortunately, people inadvertently do this every day.  Many people believe that everything that goes down a catch basin is treated, like sewage in our sanitary sewage system.  Stormwater captured by City catch basins flows directly into our rivers, lakes, and streams is not treated and doesn’t go to a treatment facility. 

Stormwater is rain that is not absorbed into the soil.  When stormwater falls on hard surfaces like rooftops, driveways, parking lots, streets or sidewalks, and other developed surfaces (including lawns), pollutants are picked up as the stormwater runs across those surfaces and carries these pollutants in the stormwater, and then into the storm drains.  These pollutants include grass clippings, leaves, cigarette butts, pesticides from our yard, antifreeze, fertilizers, paint, gasoline, motor, animal waste and traces of metal that fall from our cars, and flow untreated into our rivers, lakes, and streams. 

Public outreach is a component of the EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit held by the City of Minneapolis.  The EPA encourages catch basin stenciling because "Storm drain stenciling projects offer an excellent opportunity to educate the public about the link between the storm drain system and drinking water quality.”

Stenciling catch basins is a great way to increase community participation, providing a lead-in to encourage volunteer participation in a variety of other stormwater-related activities.


Volunteers can also provide additional benefits by picking up trash near the stenciled storm drains. 

The City will provide you with educational stormwater door hangers that your team can distribute to houses in the area. 

If you or your organization would like to the assist the Minneapolis Public Works in its efforts, contact Lane Christianson at lane.christianson@minneapolismn.gov or at 612-673-2522.

Last updated Jun. 13, 2012