February 2021

Content Theme 1: Our drinking water-don’t dump that!

Young woman drinking from a pink refillable portable drinking water bottle with a open and close flip top spout.


Do you know where your community’s drinking water comes from? Depending on where you live, it might come from a river, a lake, or an underground aquifer. Some local rivers such as the Clackamas, the Mollala, the Trask, the Tualatin, and the Willamette may supply your drinking water. Make a video about how pollution can get into the rivers or groundwater that provide our drinking water.

Here are some ideas and resources to help you choose a theme for your video:

We all belong to a watershed, an area of land that drains to a waterbody, directly or indirectly. And so we all live downstream from somewhere and what we do anywhere affects the river downstream. Explain this concept in creative ways using video. 

Find out where your community gets its drinking water and make a video about it. Use your address to look up your water provider, then check their website or contact them to find out where they get the water that’s piped to your home or school.

Everyday actions like washing cars, maintaining a lawn, and walking dogs can pollute rivers. Make a video about minimizing water pollution in your daily life. 

Communities use storm drain markers to help people understand that stormwater goes straight into the river. Many communities have maps showing the underground network of stormwater pipes. Explain where stormwater goes from where it enters the storm drains in your community.

What does “The River Starts Here” mean to you? Make a video that answers this question. Remember to include a call to action.

Check out past contest entries here.

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Video topic fact sheet: Leave No Trace

A group of eight people holding up SOLVE trash bags filled with materials found in the wilderness on Sauvie Island.
Learn more about how you can #leavenotrace when you spend time in the wilderness.


How can we enjoy our land and water while keeping it safe and beautiful for all to use? Here are some facts and ideas to help you choose a theme for your video.

Visiting the wilderness? Be sure to:

  • Clean your shoe treads before you go to avoid introducing weed seeds to wild areas.
  • Stay on designated trails to limit impacts to wildlife and always control your pet.
  • Pack water and food in durable, reusable containers to avoid having trash (leave as much packaging at home as you can). 
  • Bring a grocery bag to pick up pieces of litter you may find and pick up after your dog. 
  • Put your fruit peels and snack wrappers back in your pack (bring a small bag to hold them).
  • If you smoke, carry a metal container (like a mint tin) for your butts.

 Staying overnight? Plan ahead:

  • Bring a bag from home for trash and recycling and take it back with you. 
  • Plan for bathroom needs. 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. Some people go even more hard core and use smooth rocks or leaves as toilet paper and bring an extra sock to capture drips!
  • Bring biodegradable soap. Filter food particles out of your dishwashing water and bury them or use the designated dish wash station at campgrounds.
  • Rinse your mouth and toothbrush into the fire pit or spread into soil. Always keep human waste, soap, and wash water out of streams. 
  • Bring a quick dry camp towel for dishes or for rinsing off your body. 
  • Pick up microtrash before you leave! Animals often try to eat small bits of plastic and other packaging. 
  • Find information on the National Park Service website.
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Video Topic Factsheet: Active Transportation

There are many active transportation alternatives to cars! Read more about how active transportation can have a positive impact on our rivers and streams.


Car emissions, engines, metal bodies, brake pads, and tires all shed pollutants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, formaldehyde, chromium, copper, zinc, arsenic, mercury, oils, and grease. Streets and bridges shed pollution from cars into our streams by way of storm drains. Outdoor stacks of used tires also leach pollution into rainwater. Some pollutants attach to soil and move into streams as soil is washed away. 

Metals used for cars parts, like copper, nickel, and zinc, are toxic to fish. Fish are more sensitive to metals than people. For example, people can safely swim in water with copper, but it inhibits a salmon’s sense of smell, making it less likely to detect a warning pheromone from another salmon. 

Here are some facts and ideas to help you choose a theme for your video:

  • Pollution from cars can be deadly to fish. In Seattle, salmon that returned to a restored stream turned upside down and began gasping for air after swimming in stormwater that drained from a road and mixed with the stream water. Read about it and watch a video here.
  • A good way to reduce car-related water pollution is to drive less. Use alternative transportation whenever you can (walking, biking, scootering, skateboarding, rollerblading, carpooling, or mass transit), and drive when you need to. Explore how using the best form of transportation for the trip can reduce water pollution. Active transportation is good for everyone!
  • Reduce car-related pollution by making maintenance choices with clean water in mind. When you replace your car’s brake pads, ask for low/no copper parts. If your car leaks, use a drip pan and clean up oil on pavement with kitty litter and a broom. Never dump auto fluids on the ground or into streets or storm drains.
  • Wash your car at a car wash, not in your driveway where the wash water can make its way to storm drains. Detergents (even those labeled biodegradable) and grease from dirty cars is dangerous to streams. Dirty water from commercial car washes goes to wastewater treatment plants where pollutants are filtered out. If you do wash your car at home, make sure wash water soaks into the ground and doesn’t run into the street. Watch this short video that shows one way to safely wash cars at home.
  • Choices you make today will affect the world of your future! Think about ways young people can protect rivers and streams by reducing their current and future dependence on cars.

Find more helpful information at these links

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Video Topic Factsheet: Climate Change

An action you can take to stop climate change is growing food at home. Learn more tips below on how to grow vegetables in houses or apartments!


Climate change also impacts our rivers and streams. Make a video about how our changing climate is changing rivers and affecting the wildlife in and around them.

Here are some ideas and resources to help you choose a theme for your video:

  • Our changing climate impacts rivers in many ways. Make a video about an impact that’s particularly important to you.
  • The Pacific Northwest’s salmon population is threatened by warming rivers and oceans because they need cold water to survive. Make a video about the impact of climate change on our native fish.
  • Climate change is affecting the Columbia River, which forms much of the border between Oregon and Washington. Make a video about the Columbia or another river in your local community.
  • Learn about specific ways climate is changing Oregon and Washington and make a video about it. Remember to relate what you learned to clean water and include a call to action.
  • Warmer temperatures threaten water quality in our rivers and streams by supporting growth of harmful algae. Learn about algal blooms, these algae are responsible for closing Vancouver Lake and parts of the Willamette River for recreation each year.
  • Climate change is making the urban heat island effect worse, and one of the impacts of urban heat is increased water pollution. Make a video about heat-influenced water pollution and actions people can take to reduce it. Learn about Portland’s Green/Ecoroofs and visit ecoroofs to make a video about their benefits

What actions can I and my family take to help stop climate change?

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