CSO Art Plan
A comprehensive conceptual framework for artwork development fosters understanding of the Combined Sewer Overflow system.
In the 1950s, more than 20 billion gallons of untreated or poorly treated wastewater flowed from sewers into Seattle lakes, the Duwamish River, and Puget Sound during heavy rains that overwhelmed treatment facilities. King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) set out to address this contamination problem in the 1970s by creating the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Program, which works to limit combined sewer overflows. The program includes policies and a control plan for a complex network of facilities, treatment protocols, and conveyance solutions—all in agreement with the U.S. Departments of Ecology and Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency. It has a significant impact on water quality and public health.
Artists, their artworks, and their ideas have been incorporated into water infrastructure since the establishment of public art programs in our region—and the CSO is no exception.
This is where artists can excel, expressing big ideas, seen and unseen, tapping into feelings and emotions – the essence of what it is to be human and relate to the world around us. –Sans façon
In 2015, 4Culture and WTD hired Sans façon—artist duo Charles Blanc and Tristan Surtees—to create a CSO Art Plan. The document they produced articulates the context of the CSO system and offers a curatorial framework for commissioning artworks and amenities at CSO control locations via four primary control methodologies: treatment, storage, conveyance, and green stormwater infrastructure. The plan calls for works that are cumulative and connected, and also offers process recommendations. Organized around five topics, The Weather, The Intangible, End of The Line, Hidden Rivers, and The Magicians, rather than individual sites, Sans façon aims to maximize impact for the utility, the public, and commissioned artists, rooted in the idea that meaningful and lasting change occurs when desires and objectives overlap.
Sans façon is currently based in Calgary, Canada. Since 2000, they have been creating work around the world that responds to the relationship between people and place. Associated 4Culture projects include Monument to Rain at the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station, developed in collaboration with El Dorado.