This street-surface painting by Pam Seiser is called "Inky." Follow the link at the end of this article to see more examples of storm drain art in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by Jackson Fox

Storm Drains that Send a Message

ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY Where We Live, AARP Livable Communities HERE

By painting the town red (and other colors), artists are helping keep Alaskan waters clean

Storm drains from the streets of Fairbanks empty directly into the Chena River, a habitat for moose, beaver, fish, and migratory birds.

Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believed the drains connect directly to the sewage-treatment plan, and used them to dispose of harmful substance like used motor oil.  To change that harmful behavior in an educational and creative way, Tanaka Valley Watershed Association, a local environmental nonprofit, teamed-up with the Fairbanks city government and local businesses.

Established in 2014, the Storm Drain Art Contest seeks proposals for street art based on the themes Storm Water Pollution (to draw attention to litter, vehicle fluids, and pet waste), Wildlife (art featuring native birds, fish, and mammals) and Quality of Life (focusing on the life-giving and recreational uses of water).

Proposals are put to a public vote, and the chosen artists — who range widely in age and experience — are commissioned to crate their scenes using Fairbanks’ street grates, sidewalks, and roadways as their canvas, earning $100 for the work and $50 for materials.

Additional partners include the Fairbanks Stormwater Advisory Committee, the Downtown Association of Fairbanks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Improvements in water quality since the contest began have led to national recognition for the city’s environmental efforts.

In another beautification project, Cushman Street, one of Fairbanks’ main thoroughfares, was upgraded by bringing three chaotic traffic lanes down to two (a technique often referred to as a “road diet”; adding trees, planters, and better lighting; and improving the roadway’s traffic signals, directional signage, and street drains.

Embossed into the iron of the new drains are the words “Dump No Waste” because runoff “Drains to River.”

See More Street Art Photos:
“Storm Drain Art Contest:  Decorate the Drains!  Inspire the Inlets!  Graffiti the Grates!”

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