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“I bless the drains down in Africa”

Whoever came up with the Adopt A Drain program is a damn genius.

When it comes to naming storm drains, it seems Houstonians have a hard time keeping their minds out of the gutter.

In 2018, the city of Houston launched the Adopt-A-Drain program as a flood-mitigation effort in partnership with Keep Houston Beautiful. The premise was simple: Houston residents adopt a local storm drain through the Adopt-A-Drain website, give the drain a nickname, and commit to cleaning debris such as leaves and trash from the drain four times a year.

But without any clear oversight, what started as a fun, drain-related pun-off in naming the drains has morphed into a grab-bag of explicit jokes and politically-charged messages on a government website.

About 1,900 of the 80,000 storm drains in the Houston area have been adopted as of January, and about 1,750 of those adopted drains have been given nicknames by users. Though the majority of users chose harmless names for their drains – many of the names include puns – in our review of the program’s website, the Houston Chronicle found about 50 drains with explicit references in their names and 50 that had politically-charged messages in their names.

You can read on, and you can visit the Adopt-A-Drain website to see an active map. The guy who named a drain after his CashApp handle and the sex toy shop that adopted 200 drains to help promote their business are cited as some of the more cautionary examples, but the Chron didn’t print any of what they claimed to be the more salacious names, so we’ll just have to use our imaginations. The pun list at the end was funny – the one in the headline is my favorite – but I have to say, if no one took the opportunity to name a storm sewer after Ted Cruz, then what are we even doing here? Feel free to correct that oversight if you are so inclined.

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