When it rains, or when snow melts, where does the water go?  A large part of Ramsey is covered by roads, parking lots, driveways, and other surfaces that can prevent rainwater and snow melt from being absorbed into the ground.    Storm drains that we see along the sides of our streets are there for the sole purpose of collecting that stormwater, and directing it away from areas where it might cause flooding, and into nearby ponds, lakes, rivers and streams.  That means that whatever goes into those storm drains ends up in those ponds, lakes, rivers and streams and, eventually, in our drinking water. Also, when it rains (or snows), stormwater carries litter, debris, and other pollutants to storm drains in the streets, and, in addition to being bad for the environment, that debris can clog the storm drains, flooding local streets.  For that reason, it is important, both for public safety and the environment, that storm drains remain clear, and that nothing but storm water goes into those drains.   The Borough of Ramsey covers parts of both the Ramapo River Watershed and the Saddle River Watershed, and Ramsey’s stormwater flows, untreated, to the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook, Masonicus Brook, Ramapo River, and Saddle River.  

The US EPA estimates that as much as 60% of water pollution can be traced to stormwater.  There are approximately 1100 storm drains in Ramsey, and the Ramsey Department of Public Works does not have the staff or the resources to constantly keep the storm drains clean.  The DPW also does not have a map or an accurate inventory of the locations of its storm drains, which makes any sort of organized maintenance program very difficult.  The DPW can respond to complaints of clogged storm drains, but by that time flooding may already be happening.  What if those same citizens who report clogged or debris filled storm drains to the DPW could instead be enlisted to help keep those drains clear in the first place?

 The purpose of the Adopt-A-Storm Drain program is (1) to educate the public about the important function that storm drains serve and why it is so important that storm drains remain clear and free of pollution; and (2) to enlist the help of private citizens, businesses, and local organizations (e.g. Scout troops) to keep our storm drains clear and pollution free. The idea is simple.  You agree to “adopt” a storm drain near your home or business, and then you check periodically and, if necessary, clear debris away from the storm drain you have adopted.