Truckee drain art project aims to limit stormwater pollution |

Truckee drain art project aims to limit stormwater pollution

As seen Wednesday afternoon, Todd Tanis' storm drain mural — a stylized river scene, with water flowing into the grate — nears completion.
Margaret Moran / Sierra Sun |

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TRUCKEE, Calif. — With paintbrush in hand, local artist Todd Tanis worked this week in downtown Truckee on a mural that aims to remind everyone to protect the environment.

Sponsored by the town of Truckee, Tanis is painting the storm drain at the corner of Donner Pass Road and Spring Street.

“(It’s) to provide a creative solution for informing residents about the connection between the storm drains and the waterways,” said Drew Jack, engineering technician for the town. “The storm drain system does not filter stormwater unlike the sanitary sewer, which treats water before it is released, so anything that is dumped into the stormdrain eventually dumps directly into our local lakes and rivers.”

Stormwater pollution occurs when rain or snowmelt flows over the ground picking up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants, which then flows directly into the storm sewer system without being treated, according to the town

Tanis’ mural — a stylized river scene, with water flowing into the drain — used environmentally friendly primer, acrylic paint and sealer to illustrate the message.

“The spirit of this mural is one of interconnection,” said Tanis, a Truckee resident. “The Truckee River is 121 miles long and connects Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. The message reminds us to keep our waterways clean for the fish and wildlife that abound in the river below this storm drain.

“It also reminds those who live upstream that their actions affect us here, down below.”

In March, a review committee made up of town and Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships members selected Tanis’ design from roughly six proposals, based on it conveying in an easy to interpret and visually appealing way that we all live downstream, Jack said.

“An artist takes a risk in creating public art and, to me, this project will be successful if it elevates a sense of community, an appreciation of nature and/or inspires people to be creative,” Tanis said.

The town will compensate Tanis $1,000 upon completion, an amount that will go toward covering materials and labor, Tanis said.

Funding is coming from a CalRecycle grant awarded to the town of Truckee’s Solid Waste and Recycling Department to raise awareness about recycling used oil, Jack said.

The mural, scheduled to be complete in time for the July 23 Truckee Thursdays, will be on display until erased by the elements and road operations.

“The paint will eventually fade, but hopefully the message it seeks to convey will remain untarnished,” Jack said.

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