Storm drains. We don't spend a lot of time thinking about them until we get one of those famous South Dakota downpours. Without storm drains, our streets would quickly flood causing extensive damage to property and flooding could even threaten lives.

So if we have to have storm drains, why not make them look nice and provide some awareness at the same time?

That's the goal of the Downtown Storm Inlet Art Project in Sioux Falls and it's going on this week (7/20 - 7/26).

The project launched in 2016. Each spring, the city takes proposals from local artists. Proposals include artwork with messages supporting water quality initiatives.

The City of Sioux Falls hopes these paintings will bring awareness to potential pollutants that enter the storm drainage system.

City of Sioux Falls Sustainability Coordinator Jessica Sexe says, “Water that flows down the storm drains leads directly to the Big Sioux River with little or no treatment. As the stormwater washes over the pavement it carries with it everything the water picks up. This includes litter, pollutants, pet waste, and sediment and discharges it into the waterways. Our hope is that the art on these storm drains will bring attention to their purpose and prevent some of the pollutants from being discharged back into the Big Sioux”

Dakota News Now reports six winning artists are selected by the City of Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls Visual Arts Commission. Those artists receive $200 for their design and painting.

20 storm drains have been since 2016. Past storm drain paintings can be seen here.

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