Drain painting project raises awareness about water runoff
MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — Several storm water runoff drains along Bomber Boulevard are being painted with artwork to raise awareness about what goes into them and ultimately ends up in the creeks around Mountain Home.
The “Paint the Drain” effort is project involving Mountain Home High School art students, the Mountain Home Street Department, the Mountain Home Education Foundation and the Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers, the Baxter Bulletin reported.
“It’s an art project, it’s an education project, and it’s a public awareness program for the general public,” said Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers president Steve Blumreich, whose group furnished the funds for the project as a grant through the MHEF.
Most of Mountain Home’s storm water empties into either Dodd Creek or Hicks Creek, Blumreich said, and eventually ends up in the White River.
“It’s an effort to inform people about what happens to the storm water and to try and keep our waters clean.”
Mountain Home art students were challenged to come up with artwork for storm drains that would make people think about what flowed into them. The six winning artists and their painting partners are presently in the process of painting the drains, schedules and good weather permitting.
Three of the six storm drains were painted earlier this month, Mountain Home High School art teacher Beth Ivens said.
“The chance of rain kept us canceling our planned painting days,” she said.
Blumreich said anything that you see on the ground that can be washed away may eventually find its way into local storm drains, and from there into the local waterways.
“It’s everything from cigarette butts to fast-food wrappers,” he said. “Some of it is runoff from parking lots. If you see litter in a parking lot, a lot of that is going to get washed into the storm drains. Some of the things that are in there, but aren’t seen, are excess fertilizer from lawns and motor oil. Some people think they can change their oil and dispose of it down the storm drain, but you can’t.”
The Paint the Drain project is similar to projects in Springfield, Missouri, Fayetteville and Little Rock that use art to help raise awareness about storm drains.
“I never really gave them much thought until (MHEF Executive Director) Mollie Morgan contacted me about this project,” Ivens said. “Then it was ‘Holy cow, they are everywhere!’ when I started looking for them.”
Prior to being painted, the Street Department covers the storm drains’ concrete with a base coat that makes the surface easier to paint on. Once a drain is painted, Street Department workers will apply a clear overcoat to help protect the artwork from the elements. The Street Department is supplying the paint used on the drains and is also providing a flagger to help keep students safe while they work.
When completed, all the painted storm drains will run along Bomber Boulevard. The three drains already painted can be found at the entrance to the high school and on either side of the intersection with Bucher Street. The other three drains can be found in front of the parking lot at Bomber Stadium, at the intersection with Becker Street and near Acumen Audio at the stoplight with U.S. Highway 62/412 B.
The painted drain in front of the high school features the message, “Bombers stop trash inflation,” and shows a rainbow trout flying a plane with the banner, “Keep our creeks clean.” It was designed by Kendra Brotherton and was painted with the assistance of Reagan Buckley.
The drain on the western side of the Bucher Street intersection shows an otter set against a blue background. “Clean water, happy otter” is painted on the curb. It was designed by Lakeisha Ponce and painted with the help of Hanna McLean.
The drain on the other side of the Bucher Street intersection shows a duck and warns, “If you destroy water, you destroy life.” It was designed by Kaylee Anderson and painted with the assistance of Lauren Nelson.
Quite fitting for its location in from of Bomber Stadium, the design for that drain will feature a muscle-bound football player and the slogan, “Defend Dodd Creek.” It was designed by Saidi Villalvozo and will be painted with the help of Maritza Guadarrama.
The storm drain to be painted at the Becker Street intersection features three frogs sitting on lily pads with the words, “Save the creek.” It was designed by Beatriz Ramirez and will be painted with the assistance of Breanna Hickmott.
The storm drain near the stoplight at U.S. Highway 62/412 B will feature a large fish in the foreground with an outline of the state and some of its rivers behind it. “Save our rivers, don’t litter,” is the message displayed. It was designed by Grace Hilvert and will be painted with the help of Ava Obert.
Both Ivens and Blumreich expressed hope that the Bomber Boulevard storm drains would be first step in a larger “Paint the Drain” outreach program. Painting the storm drains around the Baxter County Courthouse — with its high level of foot traffic — seemed like a logical next step, they said.
Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com