Russian River Watershed Association's 2020-2021 Water Awareness High School Video Contest

Help educate the public by creating a PSA about the difference between our local storm drain system and the sanitary sewer system.

PSA, or a public service announcement, is a publication that helps change attitudes and behaviors by raising awareness about a community issue. You can create a newscast, skit, animation, commercial, reality television show, or even a music video. Let your imagination go wild, but please read all of the following instructions carefully!

The 2020-2021 Video Contest tagline is: Know Where Water Goes

The deadline for video submissions is: Friday, April 9th, 2021.

Contest Information

Who May Enter?

Students in grades 9 - 12 attending high school in Sonoma, southern Mendocino, or northern Marin counties. Homeschool students are welcome to participate. 

Entries can be an individual or team effort.

   Creators and co-creators


What prizes are offered?

Cash awards will be split with 50% of the prize money going to the individual(s) who submitted the video and 50% to the high school they attend.

All 3 winning videos will be featured on local channel 22 Northern California Public Media. (Wow, that would look great on your résumé!)

What are the video guidelines?

Your production needs to be exactly 55 seconds in length (this includes the required closing scene – see more info below).

All entries must be student-created. The entry may not contain any copyrighted material of any medium (music, images, etc.) and no professional assistance is allowed. Such use will result in an automatic disqualification.

DO NOT delete your original project file until the winners of the contest have been announced. If you place, you may be asked to make modifications to your entry.

How should I end my video?

Closing scene: This contest is sponsored by the Russian River Watershed Association. The last scene must feature:

Does my video have to be in English?

RRWA welcomes videos in all languages, but please include English subtitles. 

Submission Deadline is: 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 9th, 2021

How do I submit my video?

Clearly label your video file with the last names of those submitting the video to help us quickly and easily identify your video.

Please export your entry as a single file in the highest quality. Preferred formats include: .mp4, .mpg, .wmv, or .avi.

Entries can be submitted through the following methods:

All entries must be submitted or postmarked by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 9th, 2021. USB drives can be mailed to:

ATTN Kory Hebner
Sonoma Water
404 Aviation Boulevard
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

To help avoid the spread of COVID-19, please do not deliver USB drives to Sonoma Water's office. If you need to reach Sonoma Water's front desk, please call 707-526-5370.

DO NOT delete your original project file until the winners of the contest have been announced. If you place, you may be asked to make modifications to your entry.

What about the Entry Release Form?

A completed Entry Release Form must be submitted for every contributor involved in the production of the video. This means, if you ask your younger sister to be an actress in your production, she must also submit a release form. On the release form, please select all roles that apply. Only creators and co-creators will receive prize money. If not all content is original, we are asking students to provide the source of their royalty-free images and music.

You may submit your form online or by mail.

1.) To submit ONLINE:

  1. Open the fillable PDF.
  2. Type in your information.
  3. Print the document.
  4. Collect signatures on the appropriate lines.
  5. Scan the form as a PDF. Only PDFs will be accepted.
  6. If you have more than one release form per video, please upload them all together.
  7. Upload your Entry Release Form

2.) To submit by MAIL:

  1. Open the fillable PDF.
  2. Type in your information.
  3. Print the document.
  4. Collect signatures on the appropriate lines.
  5. If there is more than one release form per video, please staple or clip them together.
  6. All of your release forms must be postmarked by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 9th, 2021 to:

     ATTN Kory Hebner
     Sonoma Water
     404 Aviation Boulevard
     Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Use this checklist to ensure you’ve included all the important criteria in your video:

Print this Student Checklist.

How do I evaluate my sources?

Here are some questions to consider as you evaluate your sources of information:

Check out these websites to help you evaluate the authenticity of a website:

Resources for Further Information:

Use the following website resources to get you started on your research:

PSA and Video Creation:
Sanitary Sewer System (Wastewater Treatment Facilities):

The following RRWA Environmental Columns provide local information about stormwater pollution prevention:

The following YouTube videos are PSAs about storm water systems and sanitary sewer systems. As you watch these videos, try asking yourself these questions: Who is the target audience of this PSA? What is effective about this video? What is not effective? What helps the audience understand the information? What makes the audience want to change their behavior? What information is true for our local watershed?   

Additional Information (by Kory Hebner at Sonoma Water)

What is a sanitary sewer system?

The sanitary sewer system transports wastewater to a wastewater treatment facility to be cleaned. Water that has been used to take a shower, flush the toilet, wash dishes, or do laundry is considered wastewater. Wastewater must be treated before it can be discharged into local waterways or reused for irrigation.

What is a combined sewer system?

A combined sewer system collects rainwater runoff, sewage, and industrial wastewater. The water is transported to a wastewater treatment plant where it is cleaned and discharged into a body of water. This may seem like a great solution, however during periods of heavy rainfall, the wastewater volume can exceed the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant. Overflow is discharged directly into nearby streams, rivers, and other bodies of water. This overflow contains untreated or partially-treated human and industrial waste. Combined sewer systems also take a great deal of energy to operate. Sonoma County does not have combined sewer systems, but our neighbors in San Francisco do. 

What are storm drains and why do we have them?

When it rains on natural areas, much of that water is absorbed by the ground. The rest is either taken up by plants, evaporates, or it flows downhill into a creek or river.

In a more developed setting, rain falls onto pavement and other non-permeable surfaces such as roofs, sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways. These surfaces do not allow the water to be absorbed into the ground. To prevent flooding, storm drains were developed to drain away excess rain water, hence the name storm drain.

Who cleans stormwater?

The water that you see flowing over impermeable surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, and streets is called stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is directed into the nearest creek or river to prevent flooding. Unfortunately, stormwater runoff picks up many pollutants from residential and commercial sources. In most cases in the United States, stormwater runoff is not treated or filtered. In Sonoma County, no one cleans stormwater. Anything that enters our storm drain system remains untreated and is discharged directly into our local waterways.

Who is affected by stormwater pollution?

Polluted water entering our waterways damages the ecosystem. When our waterways become polluted, plants, fish, aquatic insects, birds, and other animals suffer. Ultimately, humans also suffer. Quality of water directly affects quality of life!

What are some common storm drain pollutants?

How to prevent litter from entering our waterways?

Remember, only rain down the storm drain!

For More Information

If you have questions about this video contest, please contact Kory Hebner at

About the Russian River Watershed Association

The Russian River Watershed Association is a coalition of eleven cities, counties, and special districts in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, fisheries restoration, and watershed enhancement. The Russian River Watershed Association includes the cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Ukiah; the Town of Windsor; the County of Mendocino; the County of Sonoma; and Sonoma Water.