2019 Storm Drain Art Project Rules and Regulations

The City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, in association with RVAH20, conducted its fourth annual Storm Drain Art Project in Spring 2019. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about the effects stormwater pollution has on our waterways.

Artists ages 18+ were invited to submit storm drain designs by Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 11:59 PM. City of Richmond staff selected six finalists to paint their drains in Richmond's Scott’s Addition district.

All artists selected will be compensated with $400 for installing their work.

Design Proposal

When designing YOUR artwork, you’re encouraged to consider the following theme:

This year’s theme “No Pollution = Cleaner Water Faster” promotes the goals of the City of Richmond’s RVA Clean Water Plan. The Plan is a 5-year roadmap of how to reduce pollutant discharges into the James River, starting with wastewater, stormwater and the combined sewer system.

Your design should include a message or phrase that references the theme. 

 Designs must also adhere to the following criteria:

  • Use the template to propose design concepts. Although the various storm drains are shaped differently, we’ll prepare and seal the sidewalks surrounding the drains to make them all a rectangular shape. Be mindful that some changes to your design may be required to accommodate the specific location.

  • Each storm drain is made of concrete with a metal manhole cover on top that varies in shape and position, as represented in the photos on the template. The shape of the drain is a rectangle. On average, the drains measure approximately 88" x 48." The lip of the drain where it connects to the street is approximately 8" high. You may paint into the street up to one foot beyond the lip. The design does not have to completely fill the storm drain plot, and art may extend beyond its perimeter. Please use the template as a guide.

  • Designs must be painted on the area surrounding the drain and must run to or incorporate the drain.

  • Designs may not contain any business promotions or advertisements.

  • Designs may not include any breach of intellectual property, brands or trademarks or depictions of illegal activity.

  • Designs may not incorporate any physical objects attached to the drains.

  • Designs must be public friendly.

  • If the final design differs greatly from the proposed design, the City of Richmond reserves the right to remove the artwork.

Selection Process

All submissions must be received by 11:59PM on April 16, 2019.

City of Richmond staff will select six winners by the week of May 6, 2019. All proposals will be evaluated on artistic merit and unique storm drain integration. Artists who've won or submitted proposals in previous years may submit again. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 13.

Project Completion

If selected:

  • Artists will be notified by May 13 if they have been selected as a winner, and results will be posted on the RVAH20 website and across touted multiple social media platforms.

  • Non-slip paint will be provided, as well as basic brushes and tubs. Artists may want to bring their own unique tools and brushes, but should do so at their own expense.

  • Painting is scheduled for the month of May, and possibly into early June. DPU will coordinate specific days and times with artists.

  • Upon completion of approved artwork, artists will each receive a $400 stipend.

Project Rules & Regulations


The City of Richmond will clean and seal the drains and surrounding areas, but each artist should sweep off their drains with a provided brush prior to painting. The City of Richmond will provide traffic cones and traffic control on the designated painting days. Storm drain art must be painted with materials provided by the City of Richmond. 


Each artist agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the City of Richmond from any loss or damage, any and all third party claims, demands, actions, legal fees or costs for which the Artist is legally responsible, including those arising out of negligence, willful harm, or crimes by the Artist or the Artist’s employees, agent or subcontractors. This "hold harmless" agreement shall survive beyond the term of the Artist’s service contract.

The City of Richmond will not be liable or responsible for any bodily or personal injury or property damage of any nature that may be suffered by the Artist, their employees, agents or subcontractors in the performance of this Project, except to the extent of any negligence or misconduct on the part of the City of Richmond. 


Artists should understand that the finished works will be on working drains and that time and weather will eventually cause artwork to fade. While DPU will provide a clear vandal-resistant varnish, artists should also be aware that the City of Richmond cannot prevent vandalism to said artwork, although every effort will be made to protect it.

Artists must accept the possibility that their artwork may be altered, removed or damaged at any time after completion. 


Each artist further grants the City of Richmond the following exclusive rights:
(a) Reproduction (including electronic images) for fundraising, educational and promotional purposes.
(b) The right to remove the artwork (or sections of the artwork) from the site for the following reasons:

  • Endangerment of public safety

  • Damage to the drain (including vandalism) requiring repair or maintenance

  • Significant adverse public reaction

  • Replacement or maintenance of the drain