Schools DrainART competition

DrainART tile

The 2018 school DrainART design competition invited primary and secondary school students in the ACT, Cooma, Yass and Queanbeyan area to submit artwork to serve as a visual reminder to the community that only rain should go down the stormwater drain.

The competition sought submissions to address three categories of pollutants commonly found in our waterways: organics, rubbish and chemicals. Each category was awarded with first ($150 store voucher), second ($100 store voucher) and third prize ($50 store voucher).

The competition received a total of 80 submissions, with 11 winning entries selected by the Project Panel for the categories. An additional Minister’s prize ($200 store voucher) was selected from the submissions by the ACT Minister for Environment and Heritage, Mick Gentleman.

The winning 12 designs have been made into asphalt art decals for placement on the pavement near stormwater drains at local shops, neighbourhood centres and town centres.

Many of the proposed installation locations have been selected by the prize winner’s themselves, further encouraging them to be local champions for improving and protecting our waterways.

Each artwork will raise community awareness on residential stormwater pollution.

The DrainArt design competition was run as part of the H2OK: Keeping our waterways healthy stormwater education program funded by the Australian and ACT governments to improve the quality of water in ACT waterways that flow into the Murrumbidgee River System.

Competition Prize Winners


Maximiliaan, Year 10, Canberra High School

“My artwork is a series of pictures that are of animals and litter combined together. The pictures of animals and litter are as follows: soda-bottle-trout, cigarette-cod, eastern-long-neck-turtle light-globe, plastic-bag-jelly-fish, rubber-glove-pelican, and aluminium-can-platypus. These are common animals and waste found in Australia with all of them (besides the jelly fish) being in Canberra. I think that this artwork is effective and lets people know what happens to waste in our waterways, letting them know to be more cautious. I believe that it’s important to keep our waterways healthy because animals affected by the litter will affect underwater and other ecosystems creating devastating issues including loss of food, water pollution and animal endangerment.”

Chemicals Category:

First Place:

Mizuki, Year 9, Canberra High School.

“My artwork’s purpose is to show how we need to stop polluting the waterways with waste that people may not realise is dangerous, such as detergent and cleaning products. I am focusing on how these products are harming the wildlife in the rivers, such as frog and fish. I chose to have a frog fearfully hopping away from the detergent bottle to demonstrate the large impact these chemicals have on them, as well as fish being swept away by the liquid detergent. The phrase, “Hop Into Action!” is a catchy phrase to have people to not only be engaged in the artwork but to also have them remember it every time they need to dispose of detergent and cleaning products.”

Second Place:

Evie, Year 5, Mother Teresa School.

“My artwork shows collections of litter and rubbish that look like fish. It shows how it’s important to keep rubbish out of our waterways or it affects the fish and wildlife. They can’t protect themselves so we have to protect them. If we don’t, the only thing to look at in our waterways will be rubbish, not fish and other animals.”

Third Place:

Zain, Year 9, Canberra High School.

“My artwork for the DrainArt Project was created to simply and clearly display the intended message to people who see it. Using two common cleaning products crossed out above the drain will easily inform a viewer to be cautious with their use of cleaning products around drains and to avoid runoff. Informing people of the importance of this is necessary to change their behaviour and protect our waterways. Clean and safe waterways are extremely important to both support nature and animal populations, and also to improve public spaces and increase the quality of life of people in Canberra.”

Organics Category:

First Place:

Gabrielle, Year 6, Maribyrnong Primary School.

“My artwork shows pollution from our waterways leaking into the lake and destroying the ecosystem. It’s important to keep our waterways healthy in order to prevent pollution from the waterways from destroying the possible habitats of plants and animals.”

Second Place:

Sophie, Year 2, Majura Primary School.

“My picture is what should not go in the drain and what can. We keep our waterways clean because we have to care about or fish and water”.

Third Place:

Harrison, Year 10, Canberra High School.

“My design shows rubbish being dumped. It also shows a platypus in the corner looking distressed as rubbish is dumped, destined to ruin his home. It tells us of what the consequences of dumping rubbish in the drain are and that it can affect our wildlife”.

Rubbish Category:

First Place:

Hope, Year 5, Hughes Primary.

“Healthy is what our drains need to be.
We don’t want rubbish in the sea.
Micro plastics everywhere.
Fish will no longer be able to get air.
Spinning spirals down the pipe.
Draining in the polluted night.”

Equal Second Place:

Peter, Year 6, Maribyrnong Primary School.

“My artwork shows why we should not throw rubbish into our waterways and what will happen if we keep on doing what we are doing.”

Equal Second Place:

Georgia, Year 6, Saint Jude’s Primary School.

“My artwork is based on how the ocean is polluted by waste, and that it affects many seas creatures all over the world. For my artwork, I have chosen to focus it on turtles and how their population is getting lower. We should stop using plastic bags and other harmful items because we don’t want these amazing creatures all dying because of us.”

Equal Third Place:

Nicholas, Year 10, Canberra High School.

“The importance of clean, healthy waterways is understood well once one finds that all drains lead to the lakes and rivers of the ACT. These wetland ecosystems provide habitat for many plants and animals, such as fish, birds and frogs. The bold simplicity of my piece catches the eye and communicates the message that keeping Canberra free of unsightly litter will make a big difference to our environment.”

Equal Third Place:

Emily, Year 6, Saint Jude’s Primary School.

“On my artwork, it says “Make the world be seen, help clean”. Also in the picture, there is rubbish littered everywhere. This means pick up rubbish so you are able to see the world and our beautiful earth. It is important to keep our waterways healthy so all the animals and fish don’t die and stay alive and so we can see our beautiful world.”

Previous competitions