Each year nearly 3,000 Adopt-A-Stream volunteers remove thirty tons of trash in streams throughout Charlotte and Mecklenburg County! While this may seem like a lot, we still need more help! There are approximately 3,000 miles of streams throughout Mecklenburg County and there’s always a lot of trash that ends up in streams after a storm. 

Rain washes trash from streets into the storm drainage system that leads directly to ponds, streams and lakes. Sometimes people dump trash directly into waterways on purpose. Trash makes our streams and lakes look terrible and harms aquatic habitat. Chemicals that may be in the trash can also degrade water quality.

Adopt-A-Stream volunteers have fun exploring local streams and feel great knowing they are helping the environment. It can be a great opportunity to teach environmental stewardship to children or a great team-building and community service activity for businesses, civic groups, and neighborhood groups. Looking to add some extra fun to the cleanup process? Print off this Adopt-A-Stream bingo sheet to play with your group. 

To participate in the Adopt-A-Stream program, volunteers are required to clean up a stream segment twice a year for two years. We will supply all the materials you need and get the trash you’ve collected picked up. Once a group has cleaned their stream segment twice and sent us all data sheets, the group qualifies to have their name on an Adopt-A-Stream road sign! The information below can help you with the next steps for adopting a stream.

CMSWS staff can also provide a presentation to help a group learn more about stormwater, and the quality of local streams and lakes in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

A group or individual can also choose to hold one or more cleanups at a stream without the commitment of an Adopt-A-Stream contract. CMSWS staff can help you coordinate this event and provide you with supplies. 

​If you are interested, please read through the information below.​

Please visit ourVOLUNTEER EVENTS ​page for upcoming Adopt-A-Stream events.

Steps to Participate in Adopt-A-Stream ​ 

1) Find a Stream Segment available for adoption.

Use our Adopt-A-Stream ​Interactive Mapto find a stream segment available for adoption. If you have problems using the map, please see the contact listed on this page.

2) Visit the Stream Segment.

Visit the stream to see if it has a trash problem, and make sure it is safe to access the stream segment. Check to make sure the banks are not too steep and the water isn’t too deep for your group.​

3) Email the Stream Code.

Once you’ve found a stream segment you want to adopt, email the stream segment code (found in red on the interactive map) to the contact below.

4) Sign the contract and waiver forms.

Once you email the stream code to the contact below, a contract will be emailed to you. This contract includes the contract terms, the Safety Rules and Guidelines Sheet, Adult and Youth Participation Waiver.  The stream segment will be reserved once the contract and forms are signed and returned to the contact below.  A signature from each member of the group is required. No person may sign for another. A parent/ guardian must sign the Youth Participation Form for participants, under age 18.

5) Reserve and pick up supplies

Reserve supplies early! Supplies include gloves, trash bags, hip waders and litter grabbers. There is a limited amount of waders and litter grabbers, especially in April, May, September and October.  Ten waders and ten litter grabbers is the maximum that can be reserved at once. Email the contact below to reserve supplies and arrange for pick-up. Supplies must be picked up at Mecklenburg County Offices at 2145 Suttle Ave. in Charlotte.

6) Be Safe

Remember to watch the weather and ALWAYS BE CAUTIOUS and SAFE. Please read our  Safety Rules and Guidelines for Volunteers.  Streams rise rapidly after storms and can quickly become unsafe. CheckPrecipitation and Stream gauges for Mecklenburg County. They can help you see how much it has rained or how much a stream has risen after a storm. 

7) Send us your Data

After your cleanup, send us your data!  This helps us track program participation and notifies us where to pick up trash you’ve collected. You can send us data by mailing the  Field ​D​ata Sheet​, or emailing theo​nlin​e data sheet.

Frequently Asked Questions​​

  • Group sizes of ​​15 volunteers or less are the best size for each segment.  
  • Road signs with a group’s name are installed after a group has completed its second clean up and returned all data sheets. The name of the group on the contract will be the name placed on the sign.  Websites and phone numbers are not allowed on these signs.

Questions? Contact:

Ashley Smith

Adopt-A-Stream Coordinator

Volunteers in creek.

Thanks to our groups that went out in September!

Catawba Riverkeeper
Creek Geeks
Overlook Neighborhood
Park South Stations Neighborhood
Black & Veatch
Matthews Rotary Club
Mecklenburg County Young Marines
The Cannons
Delta Sigma Phi
Charlotte Hash House Harriers
Boy Scout Troop 15 – St. Francis Methodist Church
Cub Scout Pack 11