Storm Drain Stenciling

A popular method for getting the message out about our effect on our lakes and streams and for getting students and volunteers involved is the labeling of storm drains. The idea is simple: let the public know that when they dump something down the drain, it just doesn't disappear nor necessarily goes through some treatment plant. Often their careless disposal of fertilizers or oil goes directly into a waterbody.

Below are some pictures of storm drain stencils that have been used by groups.


A Stencil from the US EPA's Storm Drain Stenciling Project Guidelines


North Carolina Storm Drain Stenciling Project


South Carolina "Paint The Drain" Campaign

The City of Austin, Texas storm drain marking program is a hands-on project for volunteers who are interested in educating the public about pollution prevention. The markers with the message... "NO DUMPING - DRAINS TO CREEK" displayed are placed on storm drain inlet filters to remind us that rainfall runoff can wash soil, yard waste, fertilizer, motor oil, and other contaminants into our waterways.


City of Palo Alto


Friends of the Mississippi River


Northern Virginia Regional Commission
Four Mile Run Storm Drain Stenciling Program


Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD)


Here is an Eagle Scout project with some great pictures: http://www.earthwardconsulting.com/scouts/eric_ward_eagle/eaglewebpage1.htm

Links thanks to David Ward


Some programs to affix markers rather than use stencils

Hillsborough County, Florida, uses PVC markers rather than stencils.

According to John McGee the markers make the job go a lot faster and allows them to place more specific information on them. The markers eventually fade and/or get ripped up, but they hold their color for a number of years and the ease of use makes them worth it. Generally the County sends out a kit including the markers, enough glue to apply them, and a stack of door hangers designed to let homeowners know what's going on.

Anyone in the County is eligible to receive a kit. The County only asks that they send in a tracking form indicating where and how many markers were applied. They also host a couple of larger stenciling events a year, usually the County supplies the materials and local service organizations provide the volunteers.

The County provides other interesting signs through their program as well. These include No Mowing signs for use around new plants, signs notifying the presence of triploid grass carp, and each of the restoration groups gets a large street sign to identify their pond as part of the program.

Hillsborough County Adopt-a-Pond.



City of Greensboro, North Carolina Drain Marker Program


County of Santa Barbara, California Project Clean Water

You could make a video such as the one made by Eagle Scout Ty Onuma for Clean Water Honolulu


Other Publications

Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz Chapter's Storm Drain Stenciling


Some Commercial Sources of Templates and Decals

C&R Stencils

das Curb Markers

ACP International


If you have a website with pictures of storm drain stencils that are different from those illustrated, we would be happy to put pictures or links to your page. Contact secchidipin@nalms.org for details.


© 2015 The North American Lake Management Society.