Call for Art: Help Paint Storm Drains for a Purpose

Published on February 21, 2024

The City of Sioux Falls is calling on local artists to help add beauty to storm drains in Sioux Falls via the Storm Drain Art Project. The project provides a unique canvas for public art and an opportunity to highlight the need to protect our water systems. 

Since 2016, the City has partnered with local businesses, organizations, and individuals to paint murals on storm drains downtown. This year, the Storm Drain Art Project will select up to eight designs from artists in the community that showcase messages supporting water quality initiatives. 

“As the snow melts and seasonal stormwater flows, it picks up litter, pollutants, pet waste, and sediment. These flows then enter our storm drain system and discharge directly to our Big Sioux River with little to no treatment along the way,” said Jose Alvarez, City Environmental Analyst. “It is my hope that this community project will continue to highlight the storm drain’s form and function to prevent these pollutants from making their way into our Big Sioux River." 

Design proposals are due by 5 p.m. on May 3, 2024. In addition to the design, applicants should include a proposed storm drain location in or near the downtown Sioux Falls area, which will be contingent on City approval. 

Applications will be reviewed and selected by the City and Arts Commission. The winning artists will receive $200 compensation, and the City will purchase supplies for the project, including a primer coat that will be applied before painting begins to help keep the murals intact. When the artwork begins to fade, it will be completely removed to ensure the paint does not end up in the storm drains. 

The City’s storm drainage system plays a vital role in public safety by quickly collecting water from precipitation events, like rain or melting snow, before it can accumulate and cause flooding. However, any pollutants that water encounters will also move through that system and are discharged into the Big Sioux River without treatment, adversely affecting the river’s water quality. 

“Residents can directly and positively impact water quality by preventing runoff water from encountering those sources of pollution,” Alvarez said. “Nothing but water should enter the storm drain.” 

Learn more about the City’s stormwater and drainage system by watching this video or visiting  

For additional project details or to apply, visit Past project winners and a map are available here.  

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