Storm drain art revived
“This is exactly what this whole project is about: getting a dialogue started about the storm drain system, what it does, where it is. Once you get people talking, they’ll remember—and they’ll talk about it.” –Claudia Michler
Talking, and looking at them, the painted drains that is. So much so that when some of the paint capitulated to the weather (as the artists knew it would) art watchers started to request touch-ups.
Blake Eames and Claudia Michler are the artists responsible for the painted storm sewer drains around downtown, neighborhoods near UK, and the near north side. Made You Look!, their project, won an EcoART grant from the city to help with the storm sewer public education campaign. Eames and Michler have now been granted limited funds to revive some of the painted drains.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began examining Lexington’s sewer systems in 2003. Tasked with making sure municipalities complied with the Clean Water Act of 1972, the EPA found what the city had already known: the antiquated and overwhelmed sewer system was an environmental and health hazard. In certain parts of the city, heavy rains brought nightmares for residents and public works: sewage would back up into basements and overflow into the stormwater system. Storms also brought raw sewage flowing out of pump stations and manholes. The net result was that untreated sewage from sanitary sewers (the ones that take waste from your house) ended up in our waterways.
The Made You Look! project reminds Lexingtonians that paying attention to our storm sewers is essential. Don’t dump oil, paint, trash, or yard debris into the sewers because it exacerbates the storm sewer problems and pollutes our local watersheds.