2017 Storm Drain Art Project Rules and Regulations

The City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, in association with RVAH20, wrapped up the second annual Storm Drain Art Project in June 2017. 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 Monday, April 17, 2017 at 11:59PM. Members of the Richmond Public Arts Commission selected five finalists. The art was displayed on drains along N. Harrison St. and W. Grace St. in Richmond.


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

Design Proposal

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

  1. Stormwater Pollution: “It All Drains to the James”
  2. Environmental Protection: The importance of cleaner water faster
  3. James River/Richmond Ecosystem: Local wildlife/habitat, natural beauty

Your design should include a message or phrase that references one or more of the above. 

 Designs must also adhere to the following criteria:

  • Use the template to propose design concepts. Be mindful that some changes to design may be required to accommodate the specific location.
  • Each storm drain is made of concrete with a metal manhole cover on top. The shape of the drain is a stretched "L." On average, the drains measure approximately 138" in length, 37" in width at the short end and 51" in width at the wider end. 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. 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 17, 2017.

A panel of judges, to include members of the Richmond Public Art Commission, will select four winning artists by May 15. All proposals will be evaluated on artistic merit and unique storm drain integration. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 16.

Project Completion

If selected:

  • Artists will be notified on May 16 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. DPU will coordinate specific days and times with artists.
  • Upon completion of approved artwork, artists will each receive a $400 stipend.

Project Rules & Regulations


Each artist will clean their drain and surrounding area with a wire brush and broom prior to painting the approved design. 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