This spring a storm drain near you is getting a makeover. Thanks to the partnership between the Coastal Watershed Council, neighbors in the Beach Flats and Ocean’s 11 communities, Environmental Projects Analyst Suzanne Healy and City Arts Manager Beth Tobey, local artists will be designing and painting three storm drains in riverside neighborhoods to highlight how pollution from street and sidewalks can enter the San Lorenzo River.

Storm drains move excess stormwater from streets and sidewalks into a network of underground pipes that carries stormwater to the San Lorenzo River and eventually the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This critical infrastructure quickly moves excess water away from neighborhoods to reduce flooding, but takes with it whatever pollutants it picks up along the way. Trash, pet waste, bacteria and other pollutants can harm the plants and animals in the San Lorenzo River and Monterey Bay.

Colorful and engaging art on top of and around a storm drain can draw attention to this important infrastructure and bring awareness to our river connection, inspire stewardship actions, like picking up trash and cleaning your gutters, and beautify Santa Cruz’s streetscapes. This stormwater education program is the first of its kind in the City of Santa Cruz.

City Environmental Projects Analyst Suzanne Healy works with local businesses, industrial sites, construction projects and community members every day to stop pollutants like sediments, trash and urban runoff from entering storm drains and the San Lorenzo River. CWC is fortunate to partner with her in interpreting water quality data and designing strategies for mitigating common water pollutants. In the past year, Suzanne has provided critical support for CWC programs that reduce trash along the river including a pet waste outreach program on the Riverwalk, neighborhood cleanups and now the storm drain mural project.

City Arts Manager Beth Tobey has been integral to planning and securing key funding from the City’s Arts Commission for the storm drain mural project. With years of public art experience, including many public mural art projects throughout Santa Cruz, CWC feels fortunate to have Beth’s expert eye and thoughtful approach to public art creation shaping this new approach to storm drain education and neighborhood beautification.

Through this pilot program three storm drain murals will be painted on Pryce Street, Felker Street and in the Beach Flats neighborhood by June 2019. CWC and the City will hire artists to work with community members in the planning, design and co-creation of storm drain art that represents each neighborhood and their unique connection to the San Lorenzo River. This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department, Arts Council Santa Cruz County and the City of Santa Cruz Arts Commission.

Thank you to Beth Tobey and Suzanne Healy for making innovative and engaging storm drain education possible and for protecting the San Lorenzo River. To learn more about the project or participate in the design and painting process please call Community and Science Manager Alev Bilginsoy at (831) 464-9200 ext. 104 or email Alev at

Submit Your Artist Application to Work with a Community on the Creation of a Storm Drain Mural – Deadline is February 24


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