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City, university team for public art competition to help protect river

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
September 6, 2013

Manhole public art contest

The City of San Marcos and Texas State University will initiate a design contest for stormwater manhole covers, similar to the contest completed by the City of Springfield, Mo., to educate the community about stormwater pollution. (Photo courtesy of City of Springfield, Mo.)

The City of San Marcos and Texas State University are sponsoring an art competition seeking a design for storm drain manhole covers that will be installed on all new city-owned storm drains.

The contest is intended to raise awareness of water quality issues and the impact that pollutants, dumped into city storm drains, can cause to the San Marcos River and other tributaries. Stormwater pollution, such as oil from roads and parking lots, lawn fertilizer, pet waste, cigarette butts and construction sediment, directly impacts our rivers, wildlife and quality of life.

“Conservation and preservation efforts are critical for the well-being of the San Marcos River and its ecosystem, and everyone in this community has a stake in the care of this key water resource,” said Denise Trauth, president of Texas State. “So we are pleased to be partnering with the city in this initiative that will heighten awareness and improve our efforts to keep this watershed clean.”

The contest is part of a joint education effort between the city and university to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act. In 2010, the City of San Marcos was designated by the Census Bureau as an “Urban Area.” As such, the city and Texas State are required to develop a stormwater management plan that includes public education and public involvement among other criteria.

“This art contest is an innovative way to engage and educate our community about the impacts of pollutants in our storm drains,” said Sabas Avila, assistant director of Public Services-Transportation. “Public art is a great way to spread this message.”

The contest is open to people who live, work, or attend school in San Marcos, including Texas State students. Contestants’ designs should be uniquely created for San Marcos and show how protecting our local waters begins at the storm drain. Designs should be original, black-and-white art that fits in a six-to eight-inch circle.

Designs will be accepted until Nov. 1. A panel of judges will select the top four designs based on the relevance to the intended water quality message and on overall appearance. Winners will be selected from the following age groups: 10 and under, 11-13, 14-18 and over 18. Winners from each age group will receive $50 and the overall winner will receive an additional $50. The winning artist will see his or her design become the standard to be used on all new city storm drain manhole covers.

San Marcos was recently named the fastest growing city in the nation, and the student population of Texas State has steadily grown for the past several years.

“With this increased growth comes more potential sources of pollution—but public awareness can go a long way toward keeping our waterways clean,” Avila said.

For more information, contact Shawn Wolfshohl at the City of San Marcos Transportation Division at (512) 393-8036 or Texas State University Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management Department at (512) 245-3616.

Full contest rules, entry forms and information can be found at www.sanmarcostx.gov/contest.