The next time you are taking a stroll in downtown Burlington, keep an eye out for color beneath your feet!  During the last weekend of September, four artists worked tirelessly to bring storm drain murals to life around the city; each carrying its own unique, awareness message. 

The intention of this art campaign is to raise awareness of the connectivity of storm drains to the lake by creating an eye-catching and beautiful image that each passerby is compelled to take notice of.  Each mural contains an inspiring and catchy phrase to remind people that these drains convey untreated stormwater directly to local streams and ultimately Lake Champlain.

When it rains, stormwater moves quickly over impervious surfaces such as buildings and roads, picking up pollutants including nutrients, sediment, oil, chemicals, road salt, and metals as it goes. According to the Lake Champlain Basin Program 2012 State of the Lake report, “on an acre-by-acre average basis, developed land can contribute up to four times more phosphorus than agricultural land”; a statistic that demands attention in consideration of the nutrient pollution and algal blooms that currently plague Lake Champlain. 

This September, the Chittenden County Stream Team (CCST) and the Burlington Department of Public Works (BDPW) partnered together to engage four, Vermont artists in this project. While painting their murals, the artists were approached by well over 100 people with questions about the campaign and thanks for raising awareness about this important topic. It is the hope of CCST and BDPW that these messages not only compel the passerby to stop and notice, but encourage them to reflect upon the impact their everyday lives might have on local water quality.  

Thank you Jess Graham, Jo Levasseur, Max Hodgson, and Tara Goreau for sharing your talent and passion for watershed stewardship!  The murals are located at the corner of South Union and Main Street (Jo Levasseur), the bottom of Main Street (Jess Graham), on Saint Paul Street adjacent to City Hall Park (Max Hodgson), and at the entrance drive to Lyman C. Hunt middle school (Tara Goreau). Stay tuned for similar projects in Chittenden and Washington county towns in future years!