Downtown Storm Inlet Art Project

Storm Inlet The City of Sioux Falls’ storm sewer system is an important public utility and plays a vital role in public safety by quickly eliminating water before it can accumulate and cause flooding. However, water that moves through the storm sewer system is discharged into the Big Sioux River with no treatment. To help raise awareness of the effect this has on water quality, the City of Sioux Falls partnered with nine businesses and organizations in the downtown district of Sioux Falls to paint murals on nine storm water inlets. The purpose of this project was to draw attention to the storm sewer system’s infrastructure and cause observers to stop and think about where the water flows once it enters the storm sewer system. If observers realize that storm water runoff flows directly to the Big Sioux River with no treatment, they may be more conscious of preventing potential pollutants such as litter, debris, and hazardous chemicals from entering the storm sewer system.

Storm Inlet Storm water runoff occurs when rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. As the water flows over the ground, it picks up everything it can and carries it along; this includes dirt, branches, food wrappers, pet waste, and even hazardous chemicals like oil, fertilizer, pesticides, and anti-freeze. Surfaces such as parking lots, sidewalks, and streets that are impervious prevent this water from naturally soaking into the ground. Because the storm water can’t soak into the ground, the runoff flows directly into the storm sewer system, where it is eventually discharged into the Big Sioux River, untreated.

To help prevent storm water runoff from polluting our waterways, follow these tips:

  • Bag and place all pet waste in your trash.
  • Wash vehicles and equipment at a car wash instead of your driveway.
  • Sweep garages and driveways instead of using water.
  • Minimize use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
  • Control all leaks and spills, even minor ones.
  • Store lawn equipment, like mowers, in areas where runoff won’t reach the storm sewer.
  • Keep waste containers covered if stored outdoors.
  • Report illicit discharge of pollutants to the City storm sewer system by calling the Storm Water Hotline 605-367-8198.

The public is invited to submit designs for the two remaining inlets. The Sioux Falls Visual Arts Commission will jury the design submissions and select the two winning designs. Designs must be submitted by July 1st. Winners will be selected July 12th. Painting of the two remaining inlets can begin the week of July 18th-22nd weather permitting. Please email fully colored, completed designs to This email should also include the following information concerning the artist:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Preferred phone number
  • Link to Portfolio (or attach/include design[s])
  • Short statement about inspiration for design

For more information about the project, please contact Jessica Lantgen at


Map of Locations of 2016 Storm Inlet Art Project



Design Inspiration

Sioux Falls Design Center

Artist: Kellen Boice, Director

Design is everywhere. This can be seen in nature as we find natural occurrences of the Fibonacci sequence or Golden Ratio. The image depicts this with a giant snail slithering across the storm inlet as its shell turns into the Golden Ratio to show off these connections in a fun way. 


Raven Industries

Artist (design):  Dan Hepner

I thought of the painting as a fun project, if I could find the time and get some help with it. We have a good crew of artists to get this done. I am excited to start this. I wanted to show a big South Dakota sky overlooking some river wetlands.  I wanted to have some of the wildlife that call the Big Sioux River home in it too.   When I looked at our storm drain site, I saw there was a manhole cover in it. After a little thought, it looked like it would be perfect for a dragonfly head.     


Coffea Roasterie

Artist: Laura Sinkgraven and Kevin Caraway
We felt that it was important to capture in the design the fact that the storm drains lead directly to the river. Most people, when they think of the river in Sioux Falls, imagine Falls Park. The design of a water fall, therefore, symbolizes the falls as though you are looking down at them. Hopefully this image will help people to realize that when they drop something into the drain, it essentially is dropped into the falls.


Friends of the Big Sioux

Artist: Karen Meyer

Friends of the Big Sioux River

My inspiration for my art is the greenbelt. I want to incorporate something that utilizes the river and has a constant presence and the Canadian goose came to mind. 


Koch Hazard Architects

Artist: Sandra Callies

 Water is our most important natural resource, and it no longer inexhaustible. Basin-scale water use maps can help us understand how water is used and evaluate aquifer depletions (GISuser). The High Plains areas are abnormally dry from the U.S. Drought Monitor and major corn, soybean, hay, and cattle areas are affected (U.S. Drought). States including South Dakota contribute to global agriculture feeding people and livestock around the world at the price of polluting our local water.

Koch Hazard Architects

By participating in the Storm Inlet Painting Project, I hope to bring awareness to these complex issues our water and community faces.

Painting with watercolors, tint and shade create a 3-dimensional water droplet floating on the surface of the state of South Dakota. I have been very inspired by Sharon Day of Minnesota leading Nibi (Water) Walks on Rivers across the Midwest. “Nibi Walks are indigenous-led, extended ceremonies to pray for the water. Every step is a taken in prayer and gratitude for water, our life giving force” (Nibi Walk). By thinking of Sharon Day and her dedication to our natural resource, the Water, I highlighted the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers. Let’s stand together and PROTECT THE BIG SIOUX!



Artist: Ruth Sturm 

What Inspired This Artwork: As new downtown building owners and enthusiastic Sioux Falls residents, we wanted to remind city dwellers of the connection between inlet drains and wildlife. It is easy to forget that littering or dumping liquids down the storm drain has a direct effect on integral parts of our environment, such as fish and birds. Our design strives to make that effect visible. 




Co-op Natural Foods

Artist: Lilia Baltazar


Individual Artist Contribution

Artist: Karen Meyer

My inspiration for my design is focused on the water fowl of the Big Sioux River. They are the immediate visual users of the Big Sioux and they are an important part of that ecosystem.  

Artist: Karen Meyer


Artist: Myah Dinger

The inspiration for this design just popped into my head while I was sketching some ideas and when looking at the slogans you guys have up; your "rain only" slogan helped me into creating this rain scene and making a small puddle of rain water, going into the storm drain, and heading to the Big Sioux, my slogan for this is "No Chemical Waste; Rain Water Only; Protect the Big Sioux.”