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Everyday Actions

Video Theme: Where does stormwater go?


Rain going down a storm drain.
Stormwater runs off of hard surfaces and into storm drains like this. The stormwater travels through pipes and usually goes to the nearest stream or lake, untreated. Do you know where your stormwater goes? We need to keep pollutants like dog poop, car wash soap and pesticides from mixing with stormwater or going down the storm drain to protect the health of our water! 



We are all connected by water. We all live in a watershed that drains to a creek, lake, or river, and eventually, the ocean. The water that falls where you live may be the same water that flows down a river hundreds of miles away. 

We’re fortunate to live in an area with amazing rivers that sustain our iconic pacific northwest salmon, trout, sturgeon, and other wildlife. They provide people a place to boat, float, splash, fish, and paddle. Rivers are also used for shipping goods and some are even used as a source of drinking water. 

As cities and towns grew, they built storm sewer systems to move stormwater off buildings, houses and roads as quickly as possible. Today, water that used to soak into the ground flows across hard surfaces and down storm drains along streets, altering our natural waterways and increasing pollution. Storm drains usually lead directly to the nearest stream, carrying oil, grease, dirt, metals, pesticides, litter and bits of plastic are picked up along the way. This pollution is bad news for the water bodies that we use for recreation. It’s also really bad for the fish and wildlife that need clean, cold water to survive. Imagine how you would feel if someone started dumping dirty water into your bathtub while you were using it!

These days, cities are doing more and more to help by adding vegetated stormwater features like rain gardens that help let water soak into the ground and trap dirt and certain other pollutants  before it drains to waterways, but this still isn’t enough. Everyone has to pitch in and help out, which is where you come in -   creating a video about one of the topics below can teach and inspire others!

  • Your video is a way to teach others about the actions they can take to protect water.
  • Show your message, don’t just say it.
  • Use your creativity to grab viewers’ attention, keep them watching to the end and leave them with an “aha” moment.
  • Consider using action, comedy and/or emotion to help get your point across. 
  • Select a call to action and give your video a cool movie name.

Here’s an example commercial from The River Starts Here campaign to get your creative juices flowing. By the way, the drain in this commercial was protected and cleaned after this commercial was filmed, so please don’t put things in drains in your own film or try to remove a grate because they are heavy and dangerous.

Theme 1: Where does stormwater go?

Pick a topic from A, B or C below and make a 55 or 25 second video.

Stormwater is rain or snowmelt that runs over land to low-lying areas – streams, rivers and lakes. Along the way, it picks up and mixes with pollutants like pet waste, pesticides, oils, and more. We help protect water by preventing pollutants from mixing with stormwater before getting into storm drains. Make a 55 or 25 second video about a clean water topic from A, B or C below. Include a call to action at the end of your video. Videos must be exactly 25 seconds for the ‘short’ category and 55 seconds for the ‘long’ category.

A. Where does my stormwater go?

Tell the story about where your stormwater goes. Many people know that stormwater goes down storm drains on their street, but many do not know where that water goes or that it does not get treated to remove pollutants before going into local water bodies. What could people do to prevent stormwater pollution from their home or school getting into the storm drain and ultimately to your local stream, river or lake? Learn more about Clark County watersheds here

  • Make a video that tells a story about stormwater from your home or school. Where does it go? How does it get there?  
  • The moment a raindrop hits a hard surface it becomes stormwater. What are some pollutants it could pick up on its way to the storm drain and waterbody? What could people do to prevent this pollution?
  • Some common pollutants around home or school include: dog poop left outside, washing cars in the street or driveway, pesticides and fertilizers on lawns and oil from leaky vehicles.

B. Healthy home habits

There are a lot of simple things people can do to prevent pollution around their home. Make a video about one or all of these things:

  • Pet waste – Scoop it. Bag it. Trash it. Everywhere. Pick up pet waste around the home regularly. Put it in a bag and throw it away in the trash, not in the organics waste bin. Always remember bags when taking dogs for walks. Bring some extras in case a fellow dog walker forgot theirs. 
  • Car washing – at the car wash, on the lawn or protect the drain with old towels. When people wash cars on the street or in their driveway the dirty, oily, soapy wash water goes into storm drains that lead to local streams, rivers and lakes. The best place to wash cars is the car wash because that water does get treated. The next best place is on the grass because the water can soak into the ground and the soil can help filter the pollutants. If those aren’t possible, use some old towels to soak up the wash water so it doesn’t reach the storm drain like this. 
  • Sweep it up, don’t hose it down! When cleaning up around the house, some people like to use a hose to wash everything down. But that just sends dirty water down the street, into storm drains and into local waterways. A better way is to sweep up and throw that debris away in the trash. 

C. Pack it in, pack it out. 

Litter left along trails and in parks can end up in streams, rivers and lakes. Show what ‘pack it in, pack it out’ means by demonstrating tips and ideas people can follow. Here are some ideas to show.

  • Pack water and food in durable, reusable containers to avoid having trash (leave as much packaging at home as you can). Bring durable bowls, cups, towels instead of paper plates and napkins.
  • Put your fruit peels and snack wrappers back in your pack (put them back in one of your empty reusable lunch containers or bring a small bag to hold them).
  • Pick up after your pet in parks, playgrounds, at the beach, near waterways. Take pet waste bags with you and put them in the trash - don’t leave them on the trail! 
  • Bring a bag from home for trash and recycling and take it back with you. 
  • Plan for bathroom needs. When camping, bring a trowel to dig an 8” cathole to bury your poop at least 50’ from water bodies. Bring a ziploc labeled for each camper and put your used toilet paper, cotton wipes, and feminine products in it to throw away later. Backcountry hiking in many places now requires GO Anywhere waste kits or WAG bags. 


Video Tips

  1. Do not use stock footage and photos--we want to see your own video. Using copyrighted footage, photos or music will disqualify your video!
  2. Use YouTube’s Audio Library to find music or use something you’ve created yourself. Your school district may have audio files you could use, such as Sound FX. DO NOT use copyrighted music or your video will be disqualified. Note: there are many YouTube channels claiming to have royalty/copyright-free music. DO NOT use them as the music copyrights can change later and disqualify your video.
  3. Clean your lens. Film in landscape, or horizontally, so your video is wider than it is tall. Hold your phone with two hands while filming. 
  4. Select your video recording quality settings to high quality, 24 to 30 frames per second, use 60 fps if you plan to slow down the video. Render your edited video to the highest quality as well. Finally, under your YouTube profile, go to settings and select the highest upload quality. 
  5. If using a free video editor, select one that does not watermark and will export to YouTube quality (minimum resolution of 720p). Your school may have video editing software or you can search YouTube for advice on best free mobile phone editors for IOS or Android.
  6. English and other languages:  You may narrate your video in English and use another language as subtitles or narrate in another language and subtitle in English. We encourage cultural perspectives!
  7. Song parodies:  Check out this educational parody of this original Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes for inspiration. Of course, you’d pick a more modern song!

Resources to help you make your best video!

Dig Deeper:

Check out these links to learn more about the topic you choose.

Watch past video winners for inspiration:


Questions? Contact us.

Stormwater Partners logo with salmon jumping.