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Street art brings awareness to water quality

 Tyson Schultz
Tyson Schultz
Veda Tonneson SDPB
Tyson Schultz's 2022 inlet art.

For the eighth year in a row, Sioux Falls artists take to the streets to create art on stormwater inlets.

Early in April, artists were asked to submit designs for the downtown street inlets. The City of Sioux Falls partnered with the Visual Arts Commission to choose the winners. This year, a youth category allowed artists under 18 to participate.

The goal of this project is to bring awareness to the water quality of the Big Sioux River through art. Jose Alvarez is the Environmental Analyst for the City of Sioux Falls. They said many people mistakenly believe that stormwater drains lead to treatment plants.

“That’s not the case,” Alvarez said. “Water that flows down the storm drains leads directly to the Big Sioux River or other natural drainageways with little or no treatment.”

This lack of treatment causes problems, because rainwater collects debris and pollutants as it washes down the street. Everything the water picks up gets directly transferred from the inlets to the Big Sioux River.

“Our hope is that the art on these storm drains will continue to bring attention to the purpose of the storm inlets and to remind people of the impact we all have” Alvarez said.

An interactive story map with current and previous designs is available for the first time this year.

Artists begin painting the downtown inlets this week.

More information about city artwork can be found at

Veda is an English and journalism major at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. She loves writing and storytelling, and she plans to pursue a career as a journalist after graduation.