Held every summer since 2016, UpStream Art is a project hosted by the City of Springfield in which artists are commissioned 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 project consists of a Call to Artists in spring, a panel of judges selecting the winning designs, a two-day mural painting activity in summer, followed by tour opportunities. Tours include the Virtual Tour and Self-guided Tour Map published on this page.
The murals convey a simple-yet-important reminder: storm drains across the City create a direct connection from Springfield’s streets to the waterways. Some cities treat their stormwater before it reaches the rivers, but Springfield does not. That’s why it’s important that we and our neighbors make sure no contaminants, debris, or litter from around our homes and businesses wash into the drains.
Our goal for UpStream Art is to inspire community members to do their part in preventing pollutants from entering storm drains.
What is stormwater?
As Springfield has developed, more areas have become covered by buildings, asphalt, concrete, and more. Without realizing it, these structures disrupt an important part of the water cycle.
Normally rain filters into the ground and joins the water supply but when solid surfaces cover the ground the rain instead flows over roofs, driveways, and streets. There would be floods every time it rains, but Springfield has developed a dynamic stormwater system that collects rain and directs it into local rivers and streams. The stormwater system consists of gutters, storm drains, catch basins, channels (or ditches) along roadsides, swales, underground pipes, ponds, and more.
As rain flows over the City, it picks up pollutants from our solid surfaces and washes them into the stormwater system and out to our waterways where it can harm aquatic life and our water supplies – the McKenzie River to the north, and the Willamette River to the south. These rivers are vital to our way of life! Pollutants include everyday items like yard fertilizers or herbicides, oil from our cars, zinc from moss killers, little pieces of litter including cigarette butts, debris from pressure washing, and even soaps and grease from car washing.
These and other pollutants have a harmful effect on aquatic life and the health of our water supplies. It’s why we say, “Only rain down the storm drain!”
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.