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Thursday, April 10, 2014

#SewerCoverCONTEST: A sewer manhole cover as a canvas? Your design could be worth $500 for local charity.

Next time you pass a manhole cover in the street, think of it as a cast-iron canvas and your design could last a lifetime.

As the Sewer District prepares new green infrastructure and Project Clean Lake construction, we are offering northeast Ohioans the chance to design the cast-iron manhole covers that will rest at the surface of some of these projects.

"The winning design will become a standard whenever new storm sewer manholes are included in Project Clean Lake construction," said Kellie Rotunno, Director of Engineering and Construction. We hope the contest and the winning design helps raise awareness about the connection between what goes in the storm drain and the health of our Great Lake.

Besides the winning design being impressed upon infrastructure that could last more than a generation, the artist will have a $500 donation made in his or her name to one of three local organizations—Community Shares, United Way or the UNCF.


"This is a fantastic and unique opportunity for artists and designers young and old in Northeast Ohio to be part of one of the largest environmental programs in Greater Cleveland," said Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, Manager of Watershed Programs. We are really looking forward to seeing what folks come up with."

Why add art to sewer covers?

It is a common misconception that storm drains flow to a wastewater treatment plant like the sanitary sewer system (toilets, sinks, etc.) does. Actually, they flow directly or indirectly to area streams, rivers, and ultimately Lake Erie.

Not only is it important that we don’t dump or drain chemicals and polluted water in storm drains, but also that we consider how our everyday activities could be polluting stormwater runoff. On its way to a storm drain, stormwater that runs off our yards, streets and parking lots can pick up pollutants along the way such as excess fertilizer, oil from leaking vehicles, and pet waste. By changing simple daily habits, we can each make a difference in our region’s water quality.

The winning manhole cover design will help raise awareness about the connection between what goes in the storm drain and the health of our Great Lake. In addition, manhole covers present an opportunity for public art, allowing us to experience art in our everyday lives.


The contest is open to anyone who lives, works, or attends school in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District 62-community service area. All submissions must be received by May 9, 2014.

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