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Downspout Disconnect


Stopping Stormwater

Stormwater is easily the leading causes of water pollution in Washington, D.C. In part, this is because one-third of DC homes have downspouts that connect directly to the combined sewer system. When it rains hard, that water flows directly into the sewer system which causes water and sewage to overflow into Rock Creek.

In 2017, Rock Creek Conservancy entered into a $300,000 contract with DC Water to pilot a project called ‘Drain the Rain’ that would incentivize homes to disconnect these downspouts and help stop overflows at the source.


Drain the Rain Ad

Click here to go to the DC Water page and to learn if your home is eligible for disconnection! 

2017 Drain the Rain Phase I 

Downspout disconnect metrics: 100 homes disconnected, 128 downspouts disconnected, 63 rain barrels installed, 0.89 acres of impermeable surface turned permeable

Drain the Rain Pilot Program 

Step 1: Canvas

We hired a team to go door-to-door in two small areas of D.C. to talk to homeowners and enroll them in the voluntary program. 

Step 2: Assess

Canvassers assessed the buildings and yards of these homes to determine if the disconnection could be made. 

Step 3: Install

We provided eligible homes with a professional disconnection and in many cases a rain barrel installation. 

Step 4: Decide  

At the end of 2017, we worked with DC Water to determine if the pilot project was successful. The project was deemed a success and we will be conducting Phase II in 2018.




In 2017, the Conservancy disconnected 128 downspouts and installed 63 rain barrels. We were able to redirect water that runs off of 0.89 acres of impermeable roof surface towards grass and other permeable surfaces, This keeps it out of the sewer and prevents overflows. 


Where does the water go?

When we disconnect downspouts we redirect the water to a permeable surface to be absorbedt. A rain garden is the ideal place to re-direct the water. If enough space is available in the permeable area, we install rain barrels. 

We do not disconnect downspouts if:

• There is not enough permeable surface to which we can direct the water.
• The water would flow onto neighboring properties.
• The water would flow over a paved surface or sidewalk
• The water would flow towards the building.

Is my home eligible? 

Head to DC Water's Downspout Disconnect page to find out if your home is eligible. 

 Click here to download a PDF summary of the 2017 Downspout Disconnect program. 





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