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City of Clearwater’s Storm Drain Mural Program

Storm Drain Art Placemaking      Storm Drain Art Placemaking

The city of Clearwater welcomes its residents to apply to paint their own storm drain mural. In addition to their artistic value, painted storm drains serve a very important educational purpose by addressing the misconception that it’s acceptable to dispose of trash, grass clippings, and chemicals down storm drains. The water that flows through Clearwater’s storm drains goes directly into the Gulf of Mexico or Tampa Bay without treatment. Therefore, messaging to prevent the disposal of waste in storm drains is pivotal to maintaining safe, clean oceans and beaches. 

To encourage residents, volunteers, and students to get involved, the city of Clearwater will provide all supplies free to participating groups. 

Materials the city of Clearwater will provide: Traffic safety vests, traffic cones, pre-made stencils (if requested), wire bristle brush, Sherwin Williams ProPark traffic paint, paint brushes, sidewalk chalk for outlining mural, plastic gloves, tarp to protect the pavement from paint, paint stirring sticks, paint mixing containers, spray paint (Rustoleum Ultra Cover 2x Indoor Outdoor), bucket for soaking brushes, paint rollers, paint rolling trays, hammer, paint can opener, sealant, and painters tape.

Materials participants will provide: Water for soaking brushes, trash bags, paper towels, and towels to kneel on while painting (if desired).

Steps:

1. Select one or several city-owned storm drains to paint. Consider storm drains that will be most visible or will have the most impact. Remember to think about the layout of your design when you select a storm drain. For instance, some storm drains have manhole covers so if one of these sites is selected, your design will have to incorporate them accordingly. Additionally, you may also consider orienting your mural so that it faces the sidewalk instead of the street so that more passersby can enjoy it. If you notice any crumbling or broken storm drains while scouting for sites, please report this to the city at (727) 562-4559.

A standard manhole cover can have any design painted on it while a decorative manhole cover (pictured below) may not be painted. 

Instead, plan to paint around decorative storm drain mural covers like the example from 625 Cleveland St. below:

 Storm Drain Art Placemaking

 

If you decide to paint a non-decorative manhole cover as part of your design, remember that storm drain covers are lifted regularly for maintenance. Make sure that whatever is painted on these covers can be rotated, as maintenance crews will alter the orientation of the manhole cover during the regular course of work. See below for an excellent example of a manhole design that can be easily rotated.

2. Create a design that incorporates an environmentally conscious, ocean friendly theme. All storm drain murals must include some language promoting water shed preservation, ocean friendliness, or litter prevention. Here are some examples of phrases your group could incorporate in the design although new ideas are also welcome:


       A. "A Healthy Gulf Starts Here"
       B. "Only Rain Down This Drain"
       C. "H2Only"
       D. "Keep it clean, we are all downstream" Include images of marine animals
       E. "Help a manatee and humanity! Only rain down this drain"
       F. "Keep it clean to keep our oceans pristine"
       G. "I Lead to the Ocean"
       H. "Clearwater Deserves Clear Water"
        I. "Keep Clearwater Bright and Beautiful"
       J. "{Insert name of neighborhood} keeps our oceans clean"

If you’d like to know which body of water your specific storm drain flows to so that you may incorporate that into your message, please email Sarah Kessler, the city's Environmental Specialist, at sarah.kessler@myclearwater.com.

3.  Decide whether you want to include any stencils in your design. While stenciled art is easier to apply, murals can be more creative and eye-catching. If you decide to use stencils in your project, you may use any combination of the city’s pre-approved stencil kit or you may design and create your own. Participants may borrow pre-made stencils of above slogans A, B, E, H or I as well as stencils of fish, sharks and manatees.

 

Mural

Storm Drain Art Placemaking

Combination of stencil and mural

 Storm Drain Art Placemaking

 

4. Once a draft of your design is complete, submit it through the Storm Drain Mural application which can be found here. Please allow two weeks for your application to be reviewed.

5. If your application is approved, the Engineering department will inspect your selected storm drain(s) and remove any existing storm drain placards from your selected site(s) to make room for your design. Please allow two weeks for inspection and placard removal.  You will be notified via email when your site is ready. 

6. Email neighborhoods@myclearwater.com to request your supplies, including the date you would like to pick up and return the materials to the city of Clearwater’s Planning and Development Department, located at 100 S. Myrtle Ave. Pick up and drop off must be on a weekday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Supplies may be checked out for up to two weeks. Note: If supplies are already reserved during your requested period, the city’s neighborhoods coordinator will work with you to find a different check out period. 


7. Install your art piece:

       A. Plan to paint on a day that is above 50 degrees, with no wind or rain. Ensure that the pavement you’ll be painting is completely dry before you start. Don’t paint if it’s likely to rain the following day. It typically takes 3-4 hours to complete a storm drain mural and in some cases, groups have split the work up over several days so plan accordingly leaving plenty of time for installation.

       B. Set up traffic cones around the area you plan to paint.

       C. Thoroughly scrub the area a you plan to paint with a wire brush to remove dirt and dust, increasing the longevity and vibrancy of your work.

        D. Wear gloves and remove any debris or waste clogging the storm drain.

        E. If you’ve decided to do a mural, use sidewalk chalk to draw the outlines of your design. Use painters tape to mark off the area so that when you paint, none leaves the designated area. If you’ve decided to do a stenciling project, tape your stencil down to hold it in place and to make sure that paint doesn’t get outside the stenciled area.

        F. Sherwin Williams ProPark traffic paint only comes in red, yellow, blue, white, and black but you may mix to achieve desired colors.

        G. Paint your design, being careful not to use too much paint or to get any paint down the storm drain or in the road. If stenciling, be sure to hold the spray can 4 to 8" from the pavement surface. If too much paint is applied to a stencil, it will run underneath the stencil and blur the design. Remember, more paint can always be added but it’s difficult to take any away.

         H.  Put up a wet paint sign and leave the cones up until the paint has dried. It should take less than an hour to be dry to the touch but wait a few hours to take the cones down and walk on it.

         I. Once your mural is completely dry, apply a single coat of sealant to help your mural last longer. 

         I. Make sure to thoroughly clean your work site, leaving no litter or waste behind. It is critical that waste water is dumped down a sink and not down a storm drain. Storm drain water flows directly to the ocean without treatment. If paint enters the stormwater system, contact Stormwater Maintenance at (727) 562-4950 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or call (727) 462-6633 after hours, weekends and holidays.

8. Please ensure that all brushes are cleaned, paint cans have been properly resealed, and any used paint rollers have been properly disposed of before returning the supplies to the city of Clearwater’s Planning and Development Department, located at 100 S. Myrtle Ave. Drop off must be on a weekday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  If you made your own stencils, consider donating them so other groups can use them too.

9. Send photos of your completed design to neighborhoods@myclearwater.com, so that the city can celebrate your work. If you have any suggestions for improvements to this process, please let us know.

10. Continue being an excellent steward of your storm drain by retouching your design as necessary, removing any debris that clogs your drain, and reporting any other issues with your drain to the city of Clearwater’s Engineering Department at (727) 562-4750. If our maintenance crews notice that a mural is looking a little worse for the wear, we’ll email the project lead to request that the mural be retouched.

Want to do even more? Consider hosting an unveiling party for your project or, depending on how many storm drains you’ve painted, organize a walking tour to show off your work and educate the public. If you want to go even further in your efforts to preserve Clearwater’s watershed, consider joining the city’s Adopt-A-Waterway program.

 

Storm Drain Mural Program in the News:

ABC Action News

Bay News 9

Channel 10 News

News Channel 8

Tampa Bay Newspapers

Questions on how to do this in your neighborhood? Email neighborhoods@myclearwater.com or call (727) 562-4559.