Downtown Storm Inlet Art Project

Storm Inlet Painting Project 2019

The City of Sioux Falls
In Partnership with the Visual Arts Commission

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 with little or no treatment. Beginning in 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 that stormwater is not treated. These paintings are intended to bring awareness to potential pollutants such as litter, debris, and hazardous chemicals entering the storm drainage system. This project will continue in 2019 by adding five more inlets throughout Sioux Falls to the program. Artists will be asked to propose an inlet location. Location will be contingent on City approval.


April 22, 2019: Project announcement
May 13, 2019, 5:00 p.m.: Submission deadline
May 21, 2019: Design selection
June 3–7, 2019: Storm inlet 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 to the Big Sioux River.

Submitted designs must be completed and in color. 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 inlet lid. Manhole covers may also be painted. Painting the adjacent sidewalk or any area outside of the inlet lid will not be allowed. Also, painting the inside of the inlet 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 paints from Norberg Paints downtown on East 14th Street free of charge. Photos of the selected and completed storm drains will be posted to the City’s website and social media accounts. Each of the five selected artists will receive $200 compensation for their design and painting. Inlet covers will be prepped for painting by City staff with a clear prime coat. There will be an inlet reserved for youth submissions under the age of 18. If you or your organization would like to be considered for this category, please indicate this on your application submission.

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 Jessica Sexe at 1017 East Chambers Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, or emailed to with the subject “Storm Inlet Painting Submission.” Designs must be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 13, 2019. 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 (under 18 years old)
  • Proposed inlet location (must be located in downtown Sioux Falls, contact Jessica with any questions)

Judging/Awards Criteria:

The design submissions will be juried by the Sioux Falls Visual Arts Commission in partnership with the Sioux Falls Sustainability Program. Selection criteria will include, but 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 inlet).

Jessica Sexe
City of Sioux Falls
1017 East Chambers Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57104


Artist:  Tabatha Elliot

“I love art, and I wanted to draw something different and beautiful”

Artist:  Denise Patton

“Protect the Big Sioux- Let’s keep the streets neat! The image shown in this design is meant to share the impact of garbage on our aquatic wildlife. By keeping our streets neat-we can avoid polluting the river.”

Artist:  Gregory Patton

Only rain down the drain! The design is simple and clear, yet distinguishable. This encourages citizens to recognize that by saying ONLY rain down the drain…means that other things are not meant to end up in our storm drains. Hopefully, the colors and bold print make an impact.”

Artist:  Sharon Wegner-Larsen

“I'm a Sioux Falls artist and I frequently explore nature and environmental themes in my work. I couldn't pass up the chance to use my artwork for science communication and conservation purposes!”

“My design is of a kayaker on the water because my husband and I love to float down the Big Sioux River! It seems to be a very popular sport in Sioux Falls.”



Artist: Leah Simmons

Drawing my inspiration from sidewalk chalk artists and the great Dr. Seuss, my piece is focused on showing pedestrians the “face” of litter and other waste that ends up in the Big Sioux. I would like to position the piece in such a way as to appear to be looking up at the viewer, as if the storm inlet is more like an open square of water, polluted with the trash commonly throw in the street. Like the Lorax, my little sad-faced fish is trying his best to warn people of the impact of their actions, in a way that is easy to translate no matter what age the viewer.


Artist: Mealanie Ratzlaff

I wanted to do a design that focused on the fish that live in the river and give a visual to things that should not go in the drains. By keeping the bad out, we can preserve the beauty of the river. 

Artist: Rain White

I immediately thought of this idea when I heard of the project. It was inspired by one of my favorite artists who recently completed a series of drawings on the effects of poor environmental care on animals, using the contrasting colors of blue and red. The effect is quite dramatic, albeit simple. I drew a Walleye fish; common to our area, in blue. Then on the inside is filled with the type of trash that would typically get washed away off the street, in ends up in the bellies of these beautiful fish, not to mention polluting our river. I hope the simple yet stark contrast will be a memorable visual for passersby. 

Artist: ShaniaTran (youth submission)

I'm always inspired by hand drawings! I feel as though it captivates people to want to see the art piece and its message behind it.