Storm Water Inlet Art Project Draws Attention to Water Quality

For the third year in a row, storm water inlets along downtown Sioux Falls streets will be painted by local artists to draw attention to the city’s storm drainage system and the water quality of the Big Sioux River.

A Call for Art went out in April, and designs were selected by a subcommittee of the Visual Arts Commission in partnership with the City of Sioux Falls in May. Artwork was selected based on appropriateness of the content, relevance to the area and audience, site plan, visibility, and impact. The project also included a youth category, in which individuals under the age of 18 were encouraged to apply. Artists will begin painting the five new inlets downtown this week.

A map with the storm inlet paintings can be found at Photos of the artwork will be uploaded to the web page once all painting is complete at the end of the week.

“A common misconception is that storm drains lead to the sanitary sewer system and that water that flows down these drains gets treated. That’s not the case—water that flows down the storm drains actually leads directly to the Big Sioux River with little or no treatment. As the storm water washes over the pavement, it carries with it everything the water picks up. This includes litter, pollutants, pet waste, and sediment. This storm water runoff then discharges into the waterways. Our hope is that the art on these storm drains will bring attention to the purpose of the storm inlets and prevent some of the pollutants from entering the Big Sioux,” says City of Sioux Falls Sustainability Coordinator Jessica Sexe.

The City partnered with Norberg Paints, who has donated all of the supplies for the project, including a special sealant that will be applied once all of the paintings are complete to help keep the murals intact. The City hopes to continue this project each year to continue raising awareness about water quality.

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