Storm Drain Tagging
placing a preprinted marker, or,
stenciling a message,
on or near a storm drain inlet

Slide 2

Why tag storm drains?
Storm drain tagging informs others about the storm drain to stream connection.

Down the Drain
Polluted runoff can harm South Carolina’s waterways where we fish, swim and even get our drinking water.

EPA likes it …
Storm drain marking is one of EPA’s recommended Best Management Practices (BMPs) for addressing the Phase II Stormwater Rule*

Which method is best?
You will hear arguments for and against both methods of storm drain tagging.
Choose the method that best fits your budget and needs.

Remember this
When choosing an area for tagging, neighborhood streets are usually safer than busy city streets

Getting Started
You will need to have proof of permission for tagging.  Get it in writing!

Where do the drains go?
The local public works department should have information on storm drains and where the outfall ends up (lake, river, wetland or ocean).

Be sure you have enough supplies for your project.
It may be possible to get some of the supplies donated by local partners.

Consider Safety
Use safety vests for all participants
Place traffic safety cones around work area
Assign one person (preferably an adult) with a traffic flag to watch traffic at all times
Walk on sidewalk or facing traffic
Have participants submit permission / liability forms

A Good Day for Tagging
A dry day with an air temperature of 50o
or above. (It may be wise to choose a
rain date.)
Also, be prepared with tagging groups organized and street maps marked with the location of the storm drains to be tagged.
You might also want to have refreshments before or after the tagging.

Prepare the Drain
Sweep debris away from the storm drain.
Place the debris into a trash bag.
Do not sweep debris into the storm drain.

To Apply Drain Markers
Use a wire brush to lightly scrub the area where the marker will be placed
Apply adhesive to the back of the marker following the suggestion of the manufacturer
Stick the marker to the surface you have chosen

Using a Stencil
Place the stencil in position – be sure to consider visibility and traffic flow
You may have someone hold the stencil in place or tape the stencil to the pavement
A frame of cardboard around the stencil can  prevent over spray around the message

Using a Stencil, cont’d
You may also want a cardboard shield to prevent paint from drifting onto nearby objects

Applying the Paint
Apply the paint in a sweeping motion, moving quickly

This picture shows what happens when too much paint is applied at one time.
Remember it is better to apply two light coats of paint instead of one heavy coat

Educate while you work
Pass out fliers about your project.  The group may choose to give out information either before, after, or during the project.
Be sure any educational fliers suggest ways that citizens can help reduce the runoff pollution that enters storm drains

Contact the Media
Send a press release to the local media informing them about your project and when you will be marking
If the media does not come out to cover your project, take pictures and write your own article about the project and submit it to the local paper or a community newsletter

Where to get drain tags
You can order from commercial vendors such as das Manufacturing or Earthwater Stencils, or call around in your own community to see if markers or stencils
can be made locally.

Finding out more
For more information about tagging storm drains, or to request a leaflet about this project, please visit the Water Watch website,, or call the Water Watch Coordinator in Columbia, (803) 898-4211.