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. 

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




Artist: Brett Hanes

I combined geometric shapes with a minimal, bright color palette to create a sense of unity in my design. Some elements are more easily identified, while others are more ambiguous as to whether they are part of nature, or human waste. Some pollution is easy to see, but much of it is invisible to the naked eye.

Brett Hanes

Artist: Carly Ribstein

My proposed design shows a loop between the road and the river, both populated with life. This design reminds viewers where our streets' water leads to, and shows both communities thriving in coexistence. 

Carly Ribstein

Artist: Molly O’Connor

I approached this project using bold visuals and a limited color palette. I kept the imagery simple and symbolic to narrate the relationship between land, water, and living creatures. Using color blocking and lines to move the viewer's eye through the piece, I illustrated the connection between all things.

Lan Yan

Water is a big part of our lives, be it from daily consumption or the weather. In this design, at first glance, viewers see rain boots reflected by the shallow puddles of rain. But as we look closer, these pools of water actually house fish, who depend on the same water we come in contact with. This acts as a reminder to pause and reflect on the fact that we share this resource with nature.  

Lan Yan

Ashton Dockendorf

I wanted to visually emphasis the connection between the river and humanity. In this piece, the river is “literally” born from the free-flowing hair of the woman, who stands submerged in her own river. She reaches out to touch the sky, once again establishing the connection between Mother Earth and us.

Ashton Dockendorf

Addison Brower

Addison loves art, fishing and the outdoors. She has learned to keep the environment clean and protect wildlife by attending classes at The Outdoor Campus. Her interest in art and wildlife were her inspiration for the design. The fish are crying because litter is polluting their environment and they can't clean up the mess themselves.

Addison Brower



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.