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Sonoma County Gazette
Painted storm drain
One of the curb faces transformed with hand-painted images of native fish species swimming on a waterway flowing into a storm drain.

Art on the Street for Cleaner Creeks

Nov 3, 2018


By Stephanie Lennox, Envirichment

A creative and collaborative project blending public art, youth job training, environmental stewardship and education was recently accomplished in the Historic Railroad Square area of Santa Rosa. Looking along Wilson Street at the corners of 4th and 5th Streets adjacent to Chevy’s and Aroma Roasters you will now find five storm drain curb faces adorned with environmentally-themed art. These are the first artistically painted storm drains on Santa Rosa’s 18,000 drains that connect to the 100-mile network of creeks flowing through town. The project hopes to realize real-time health benefits to local water quality and creek wildlife habitat by creating this storm drain art.

Artstart volunteers adorning drain curb faces.On Sunday October 7th, project collaborators ArtstartEnvirichment and the City of Santa Rosa’s Creek Stewardship Program pulled together months of planning and 14 volunteers/staff to install the storm drain art. In 5 hours, 5 storm drain curb faces were transformed with hand-painted images of four native fish species swimming on a multi-hued blue and green painted waterway flowing into each storm drain. Going along the water’s flow is written, “Drains to Santa Rosa Creek” and “Ours To Protect”.

Going along the water’s flow is written

Prior to October’s successful installation day, the Creek Stewardship Program worked with Artstart’s Youth Internship Program, providing environmental education about Santa Rosa creeks and the storm drain system's connection to creek health. Over this past summer, interns spent time exploring Santa Rosa Creek and also learned about everyday pollution challenges like trash, soap, paint, sediment and more that can flow into the creeks from storm drains.  Youth artists used knowledge of our creeks along with guidance from professional artists and their talented minds and hearts to hand paint the images of Sacramento Sucker, California Minnow, Threespine Stickleback and Steelhead Trout that now swim around five Historic Railroad Square storm drains.

Envirichment creates and organizes effective, hands-on, environmental education events.Inspiring people to care for creeks by caring about what flows into storm drains is a proven method to decrease water pollution and improve creek water quality. Trash and other pollutants flowing into our waterways is a real problem for our collective health. With this challenge in mind, the project hopes to continue installing storm drain art in the City of Santa Rosa and also throughout Sonoma County. Artstart is excited to continue collaborating, creating storm drain art, encouraging care for our creeks and fostering environmental stewardship for volunteers and artists in their youth internship programs. For more information about Art on the Street for Cleaner Creeks project contact Artstart and go to 

Storm drain fish painting close up



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