COCOA – In the midst of Florida’s rainy season, the city of Cocoa has launched a project that will add creative flair to its streets while also drawing attention to one of the major conduits between pollutants and Indian River Lagoon: storm drains.
Through a partnership with ArtBeatz Cocoa, the group that’s coordinating the artistic elements of the project, five storm drains are set to become canvases to raise awareness about lagoon health.
The idea for the educational campaign started in the city’s public works department early this year, and artists began applying their pieces to selected storm drains on July 21.
“We have seen similar projects in other communities and thought this was an engaging educational tool that not only shows the function of storm drains, but also shows the diversity and creativity in our community by incorporating local art in to the project,” Public Relations Specialist Samantha Senger said. “It is a good tool to attract attention to lagoon health and shows our residents that what goes down our drains can end up in the Indian River Lagoon.
“Things such as trash, grease and oils, pet waste, fertilizers, yard waste and soapy water can all impact our Lagoon,” Ms. Senger added.
One drain located in each of the city’s four districts will be painted by local artists, while an additional drain in the Diamond Square neighborhood will be completed by students in the Cocoa Police Athletic League program.
Three drains – one on the northwest corner of Florida Avenue and Factory Street, another on the 1800 block of Indian River Drive, and a third on Michigan Avenue in front of the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science – have already been completed. The artists, listed respectively, are Jenn Gallo, Vashti Vershoor and Mary Compton.
This is being considered the first phase of the project.
“If these drains are well received in the community and seem to be helping to spread the word about Lagoon health, then we will review this project for expansion in the future to include more areas and other educational campaigns,” Ms. Senger noted.
The city, which has previously partnered with ArtBeatz on painted benches and vinyl-wrapped traffic signal boxes, has also initiated other projects to tackle lagoon health.
“The city of Cocoa has a number of projects that take Lagoon health in to consideration (some recent projects include a baffle box installation in Cocoa Village to help filter stormwater),” Ms. Senger said.
“We also have a sustainability committee that is working on a long-range plan that will incorporate various projects the city can undertake or participate in that can have a big impact on the future health of our lagoon,” Ms. Senger continued.
Also of note, the city’s summer fertilizer ban prohibits the use of certain fertilizers from June 1 through Sept. 30, when rain is more likely to wash nutrients into the lagoon.