The Healthy Drains initiative relates to the MAP Initiative 4: “Creating Attractive and Desirable Places to Live.” In this overall initiative with the City of Muncie, the goal is to improve the quality of place throughout the city by improving infrastructure quality and connectivity. This initiative also relates to MAP initiative 5, Managing Community Resources, and particularly action 1, creating an infrastructure design manual.

Why this is important

Storm drains are important for several reasons, which will be detailed below. A storm drain is a series of pipes which are linked together underground that move surface water (like rain or melted snow) away from surfaces like the road and sidewalks. The water then flows into either the waste treatment plant or local water bodies, namely the White River in Muncie.

This initiative was prompted by comments from a public neighborhood meeting. As planners organized the materials from the meeting, the initiative most closely aligned with the overall goals in the Infrastructure initiative. This initiative was given a lower priority.

Storm drains are important to the livelihood of any community. Storm drains that don’t perform the way they are supposed to often indicate larger problems happening underground, including “dead end” pipes and broken tiles. When not draining properly, water can back up into the street, which causes safety problems, and can have adverse effects like creating potholes, and causing permanent damage in residents’ homes.

Furthermore, it’s important to keep in mind that the surface water that goes into these drains often ends up directly in our local streams and rivers. All the harmful wastes then end up in our water supply that inevitably comes out of our faucets.

What this will involve

Keeping drains healthy is a community-wide effort. Basically, there are two actions that need to take place: 1) Notifying officials when a drain is particularly clogged or backed up and not draining properly and 2) encouraging neighbors and residents to keep the drains clean.

Notifying Officials

As members of the community, you know what areas of the neighborhood are likely to flood when a major rain hits the area or when the winter snow melts. Flooding is an inevitability in every community when it rains, but stagnant water on a street corner or excessively deep water in a particular area may indicate that a storm water pipe is broken, clogged, or beyond its carrying capacity. In such situations, it is useful to notify the city and waste management company, explain the situation, and have a worker come assess the problem.

Remember that when community organizers set out to improve conditions, it’s useful to make note of specific actions taken and responses to that action. Therefore, when a community member makes the phone call to the local office, write down that the call was made and what steps resulted. Did a staff member from the wastewater management department come look at the drain? What was truly wrong? Take inventory of this, as you may begin to see patterns. Also, this will help residents keep record for the future. The workbook will be held by the neighborhood association. The association may assign a member of the organization to follow up, or they may ask the original informant to follow up on the issue.

Encourage neighbors to keep drains clean

While maintaining the structural strength of storm drains is important, we must keep in mind that at least some of this water will end up in the local streams and rivers. As such, it is important for the community as a whole to encourage neighbors to keep the drains clean and free of debris. Specific examples of pollution include pouring waste into drains (like used motor oil) and leaves and freshly-cut grass clogging up the drains.  If you see someone polluting our waters, you can call the Report-A-Polluter hotline at (765) 747-4896.

Spring is a great time to take note of the drainage problem areas in the community, as East Central Indiana receives a large amount of rain during this season. Furthermore, the city will be more likely to respond to major issues occurring underground during the warm months, because the ground will not be frozen. It’s useful to set a mid-June deadline for major reports so that the proper action may be taken in a timely manner.

Contact information for Drainage

Muncie Sanitary District
City Hall
300 N. High St.
Muncie, IN 47305
Stormwater Management: (765) 747-4896
Sewer Maintenance – (765) 747-4852
Water Pollution Control Facility (765) 747-4864


Suitability analysis

This priority analysis applies to the infrastructure initiative within iNAP. This priority map applies to the entire neighborhood. See Healthy Drains Suitability Map.

Source: Lindi Conover

Source: Lindi Conover

This map was created by students within the Community Development Studio. Each group identified the location of the drains within the neighborhood and Lindi Conover took inventory of the drains, by labeling them as good, fair, or poor. Most drains are good, but some fall short of that, and some are even dysfunctional, not draining at all.

Case studies

Case Study One: Muncie- Delaware Stormwater Management

The Muncie Delaware Stormwater Management department is a collaborative effort between the Muncie Sanitary District, Delaware County, Town of Yorktown & IvyTech/Muncie. Through this cooperative, Stormwater Management offers citizens real, practical means of contributing to healthy drains. The program has resources which teach residents how to implement projects such as rain gardens and rain barrels. They have also published factsheets about managing leaves & yard waste and pet waste & water quality. The program also offers educational services to schools and citizens organizations, ranging from green infrastructure and best management practices to freshwater mussels of the White River. Jason Donati at Stormwater Management can provide more educational opportunities. The website: http://www.munciesanitary.org/education/fact-sheets-and-info-links/ also provides many fact sheets which can be used in the community.

Case Study Two: Encouraging Clean Drains

Figure 2: Children displaying their Blue Water Baltimore stencil share art Source: https://www.flickr.com/


In Baltimore, Maryland, community leaders and local artists brought attention to the importance of storm drains by painting brightly colored pictures near storm drains in their neighborhoods. To create cohesion throughout the city, the local storm water management team created stencils that any local neighborhood could borrow to paint their own drains. These brightly colored art pieces remind residents that the water that drains into the sewer ultimately makes its way into our rivers and streams. Plus, the art is so brightly colored and beautiful that people naturally will try to avoid covered the area with debris.

This is a great project for summertime (on a dry day, of course), that could be implemented by local youth groups through the YMCA and/or boys and girls club.

Source:  http://www.bluewaterbaltimore.org/stencilshare/

Additional websites of interest

Citizens Stormwater Management


 Best Practices




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