Photos by Erin Browner

One of our readers asked us "What are those painted dots next to the drain systems?" I was intrigued, so I decided to investigate. I came across this post on PBS and stumbled upon a really cool bike crew formed by the city. But before I get to that, let me explain the dots.

There are more than 22,000 storm drains in our 49 square miles, and each must be tested at least 11 times every year. Turns out, the city checks the mosquito population in the storm drains to keep these biting pests from bugging us. Not only was I totally relieved to know the city is protecting against a 'squito uprising, but it's also beautifying the storm drains by coloring these dots.


The 22,000 storm drains that the Mac Team checks every year

Each color next to the drain represents a time period in which the drains need to be check. Let’s say this month’s color is blue. The Mosquito Abatement Courier (MAC) Team bikes on over to the storm drain, and if the color is not blue, they know to check the mosquito stats. Once the deed is done, they paint a blue spot so the next guy knows it’s been checked. Brilliant!