Held every summer since 2016, UpStream Art is a project hosted by the City of Springfield in which artists are commissioned at a rate of $1,000 each to paint inspirational murals around storm drains and sidewalks. These colorful creations raise awareness of the connection between city streets and local waterways while supporting artists and beautifying the city.
The murals convey a simple-yet-important reminder: Springfield’s stormwater is separate from our wastewater and it is not treated, so all the City’s storm drains eventually empty into local waterways. As rain washes over hard surfaces, it collects contaminants such as weed killers, vehicle fluids, bacteria from pet waste, soaps from car washing, small pieces of litter, and more. These pollutants flow into storm drains and out to the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers, harming the waterways we all enjoy.
By expressing this message creatively in a section of town, the goal of UpStream Art is to inspire community members to do their part in preventing pollutants from entering neighborhood storm drains.
What is stormwater?
As our community grows, ground often gets covered up with asphalt, concrete and buildings. Without realizing it, we are disrupting an important part of the water cycle.
Instead of rain naturally filtering into the ground, in urban areas it flows over roofs, driveways and streets as stormwater. Stormwater can pick up pollutants and transport them to our local waterways via the storm drain system. Pollutants include everyday items like pesticides or fertilizers in our yards, oil in our cars, and even soap. When introduced into the waterway, pollutants have a harmful affect on aquatic life and the health of our rivers.
To learn more about how you can help prevent water pollution, read this Prevent Stormwater Pollution resource and check out our Clean Water at A Glance factsheets.