FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- In honor of Earth Day on Thursday, Friends of the Rivers and City Utilities in Fort Wayne announced a new effort to keep the rivers clean.
It’s a three-year plan that aims to prevent people from putting trash in storm drains.
Co-Chair of the project Irene Walters, who’s also a board member of Friends of the Rivers, says this project will help prevent excess contamination in the rivers that run through the city.
“Whatever goes down the drain goes directly into our rivers untreated,” she said.
Fort Wayne has about 29,000 drains to worry about.
Director of City Utilities Kumar Menon says it’s time for people to be aware of the issue.
“Water quality is one of those things that people take for granted,” he said. “It’s unseen, it just shows up at your house, it gets out of your house, no one cares about how it gets there and how it gets out.”
The Clean Drains Fort Wayne project wants to change that by drawing attention to storm drains throughout the city.
It’ll start with painting murals on 30 drains from the Arts District to Promenade Park.
Walters said visual art is a great way to make people aware of the issue.
“A plain storm drain, you just ignore it, it’s boring,” she said. “But something that’s colorful and eye-catching and engaging gives the message.”
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said it’s everyone’s job to ensure people protect the environment in the city so it doesn’t affect other areas.
“We all have to accept responsibility that within our own community boundaries, that we need to make sure that whatever goes out of our community doesn’t have a negative effect on those downriver,” he said.
Henry says this project goes along with other steps Fort Wayne is taking to become more environmentally conscious.
“For instance, we’re converting more and more of our buildings into solar energy and to methane,” he said. “And as we do that, it raises our comfort level knowing that we’re doing something.”
Menon hopes this project will leave a legacy in the Summit City.
“It’s our job to make sure that we pass it on to the next generations better than what we found it in,” he said.
The city is looking for about 20 artists to submit designs for murals in neighborhoods throughout Fort Wayne.
Submissions must be in by July 10.