Downtown Storm Drain Art Project

Downtown Storm Drain Art Project

Storm Drain Art Project 2024

Storm Inlet Art Project

The City of Sioux Falls, in partnership with the Arts Commission, hosts the annual Storm Drain Art Project.

Purpose of Artwork:

The City of Sioux Falls’ storm drainage system is an important public utility and plays a vital role in public safety by quickly collecting water from precipitation before it can accumulate and cause flooding. However, water that moves through the storm drainage system is discharged directly into the Big Sioux River. Since 2016, the City of Sioux Falls has partnered with local businesses, organizations, and individuals to paint murals on stormwater inlets downtown to help raise awareness of the effect stormwater runoff has on water quality. The purpose of this project is to draw attention to the storm drainage system and to educate the public on the connection between stormwater runoff in Sioux Falls and the Big Sioux River. These paintings are intended to bring awareness to potential pollutants such as litter, debris, and hazardous chemicals entering the storm drainage system. Artists will be asked to propose a storm drain location. Location will be contingent on City approval. To learn more about stormwater and city’s storm drainage system, check out this video.


February 14, 2024: Project announcement
May 3, 2024, by 5 p.m.: Submission deadline
Mid-May 2024: Design selection
June 3 through June 14, 2024: Storm drain painting (weather permitting)

Design Details:

The purpose of the design should focus on water quality issues related to waterways or storm drains. The design should warn against undesirable waste in the storm drain, including litter, pet waste, oil, chemicals, and yard waste. Or, the design can communicate how the storm drain leads directly to the Big Sioux River.

Submitted designs must be completed and in color. Artists are encouraged to create simple clean design themes with solid color palettes and limited text. Submissions must include an attachment of one 8.5" x 11" illustration or photograph of the proposed artwork to keep on file. Artists may submit multiple entries. Only one entry per artist may be selected. Designs should include the entire top portion of the storm drain. Manhole covers may also be painted. Painting the adjacent sidewalk or any area outside of the drain will not be allowed. Also, painting the inside of the storm drain will not be allowed. Artists are asked not to include any copyright characters or designs in their design (e.g., Disney characters, etc.). All designs should be original.

Selected artists will be able to pick up paint from Sherwin-Williams Co on Minnesota Ave free of charge. Please limit color selection to four or five choices. Photos of the selected and completed storm drains will be posted to the City’s website and social media accounts. Each of the selected artists will receive $200 compensation for their design and painting. Storm drain covers will be prepped for painting by City staff with a clear prime coat. Please note, there is a two-year expectancy for the artwork. After the two years, the storm drain will be prepped for the next art installation. There will be a storm drain reserved for youth submissions under the age of 18. An additional youth winner may be selected if there are large numbers of submissions from teenagers. If you or your organization would like to be considered for this category, please indicate this on your application submission with appropriate age of applicant.

Please contact the City of Sioux Falls Public Works Environmental Division with any questions regarding your design.

Application Process:

Submissions may be hand-delivered or mailed to Jose Alvarez at 1017 East Chambers Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, or emailed to with the subject “Storm Inlet Painting Submission 2024.” Designs must be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 3, 2024. The following information must be included for your submission to be considered:

  • Name.
  • Address.
  • Phone number.
  • Link to portfolio (or attach/include design[s]).
  • Short statement about inspiration for design.
  • Attached colored 8.5" x 11" illustration or photograph of artwork to keep on file.
  • Indicate if you’re submitting as an adult or youth—Please specify age if youth.
  • Proposed inlet location—General area of preference with final selection of inlet by City staff.
  • Areas to consider—Downtown Sioux Falls, near parks, adjacent to major waterways, etc.
  • Emphasis on downtown area remains, but other locations will be considered for approval.

Judging/Awards Criteria:

The design submissions will be juried by the Sioux Falls Arts Commission in partnership with the Sioux Falls Stormwater Management Program. Selection criteria will include, but will not be limited to, the following:

  1. Appropriateness—How is the content or obvious symbolism of the proposed piece of artwork appropriate for those who will view the art, and is it within the context of the site where it will be viewed? Is the artwork in concert with the theme?
  2. Relevance—Does the artwork seem particularly relevant to the place where it will be displayed or the public who will view it?
  3. Site plan—Does the scale of the artwork fit appropriately within and complement and/or enhance the physical location where it will be placed?
  4. Visibility/impact—Does the proposed location offer high visibility and/or impact to the public?
  5. Execution—Ability to competently execute the proposed design on the medium of concrete (storm drain). 

Jose Alvarez
City of Sioux Falls
1017 East Chambers Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57104


Storm Inlet Art Project