Storm Drain Painting

This program involves students from around the Nechako watershed going into their communities and painting bright yellow sturgeon and salmon images next to storm drains. The message... don't pour chemicals and waste into storm drains because they lead to fish habitat. This kind of program has been successful in other areas, primarily for salmon, however we wanted to add sturgeon to the mix as this endangered animal lives within the waters of the Nechako watershed and all our communities have drains and ditches that run into these waters.

Students are very aware about the endangered Nechako white sturgeon, as many have learned about them in their classrooms from teachers using the Nechako White Sturgeon School Curriculum; they have toured the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre; or the students have been involved in releasing a juvenile sturgeon into the Nechako River during the sturgeon release event that happens each year. The program allows students to be involved in hands-on stewardship that supports the recovery of Nechako White Sturgeon, and protects habitat for other fish species too!

How the Program Works

This program is open to any teacher who is interested in taking their class out for an afternoon to paint or re-paint storm drains in their community. It is recommended to do this field trip in the spring as soon as the snow is all gone, but also fine for September or October before it snows.

Step One: Watch the Instructional Video ahead of time to see how to successfully and safely paint storm drains. Click the image.


Step Two: Download the stencils. Print them on tabloid sized paper (11"x17"). Prepare at least 20 stencils or at least 3 per student participating in the field trip:

Sturgeon Stencil

Salmon Stencil

The larger combo stencil is 24" x 24" and has both fish (shown above). You can shrink it to print at school, or get it printed full-size at a print-shop. Ask us for help with this.

Large Combo Stencil  

Step Three: Check at your school if it has one of the Storm Drain Painting Kits. If you school doesn't have one of the kits, or you need help with replenishing some of the supplies, contact, and/or the SD91 Trades and Careers Program (

Storm Drain Painting Kit

Step Four: Download and review the Storm Drain Painting Instructions and review.

Step Five: Check the weather forecast and plan your field trip for a sunny or non-rainy day! 

History of the Program

Starting in 2017, this program has involved dozens of students, along with teachers and help from folks at the NWSRI, to paint hundreds of storm drains. Typically involving grades 4-6 students, schools that have participated in the program include Evelyn Dickson Elementary School and WL McLeod Elementary School in Vanderhoof, David Hoy Elementary in Fort St. James, and Mouse Mountain in Fraser Lake. 

In each community, students take to the streets in their communities and paint as many storm drains as they can, usually in 2 hour shifts. The work is sometimes gruelling in the hot sun, or cooling fall days, but the students always keep going as they know that every storm drain painted is one more that will help sturgeon. Sometimes students have even had to race against storm clouds getting closer to town.

Students each have an important role for this project: the cone person, the sweeper, the ‘stenciller’, the painters, the sign person, and the cart person. Students feel a sense of pride in doing an important job in the community and for sturgeon recovery!

View Photo Gallery

Partners and Funders

This project has been supported and funded from several sources. The Public Works crews from the District of Vanderhoof, Village of Fraser Lake, and Fort St. James District provided maps of their storm drain infrastructure. The School District 91 Trade and Careers Program supports the program each year with new supplies and the cart, and safety vests. Rio Tinto has provided funding to buy supplies such as the paint, gloves, and signage. And the Federal Government’s Habitat Stewardship Program provided the overall funding for planning and delivery of this program in the Nechako watershed.