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The Street Art of Stormwater Stencils

901_giantsquidIn towns and cities with storm drains, how many people understand where the drains lead? Far too frequently, people use storm drains as mini illegal dumping grounds. Would they still do that if they knew those storm drains led to drinking water supplies? Would they stop carelessly littering if they realized it would harm the habitats of animals a few miles away?

Adam Crab

Stormwater drain marking projects are an amazing way to draw attention to these oft-neglected parts of the developed landscape. When done well, these designs can engage and educate quickly and efficiently. Stencils, emblematic markers, signs, or paintings all have their own pros and cons. The EPA provides quality information detailing materials needs, benefits, and other things to consider. An important point: Make sure to cover up the storm drain while you are painting, and only use low-VOC paints with no heavy metals. Otherwise, you risk contributing to the problem you are trying to prevent!

Tench Tilghman and Banner Neighborhoods

The stencils and art presented by Blue Water Baltimore are very inspiring. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite images from their stormwater drain marking work in this blog. You can view other images of Blue Water Baltimore's project here or download their free stencils for your own use.

Remington Storm Drain during painting 

It’s undeniable that people connect best with that which is hyper-local for them. So how can we translate the success of these stencils into something relevant for Pennsylvanians? I know a lot of water advocates throughout the state have done storm drain marking. Please share with us all what’ve you done! I’d love to do a follow-up post highlighting more approaches.


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