MTAC Home Value of Water Video Contest
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What is the Value of Your Water?

 High School Video Contest



The Issue


            Public water systems provide safe, dependable drinking water to millions of people every day.  This water, delivered right to your home, provides your community with many services that can sometimes be taken for granted.  It’s used for drinking and cooking for sure, but also for showering, flushing toilets, watering plants, washing cars, fire hydrants, public water fountains, and even filling water balloons, so the question is, "Where would we be without safe, dependable WATER?"

            A group of water related organizations have put together this solicitation to ask interested high schools to develop 30-second to 1-minute public service videos as a way of informing the public, with a positive message, about the value of water and the importance of maintaining a safe, dependable water supply for their communities.  There will be monetary prizes for the winners, and the videos will receive national exposure over the internet.  In addition, television stations throughout Illinois will receive a DVD of the winning videos and a press release describing the contest for their use on air.


Contest Summary


            10 video ideas or themes are being provided as possible video topics.  Contestants can use one of these ideas as the basis for their video, or if they have a different idea, they can submit it to MTAC for consideration. Any additional ideas must be submitted to MTAC by Oct 15, 2009 and MTAC will respond within 10 days. The contestants are to use their chosen idea to create a public service video, appropriate for television and the internet, based on the rules and judging criteria outlined below.  The videos are due on or before December 11th. There will be 4 winners, 1st receiving $1000, 2nd receiving $500, 3rd receiving $300, and 4th receiving $200.Winners of the video competition will be announced online and in a statewide press release by January 15, 2010.  The winners will receive monetary prizes for their school/club/department and teachers, as described in detail below, with over $2000 in total prize money. High school science clubs, journalism/ media clubs and departments are encouraged to participate.


The Goal


            The goal of this project is to increase public awareness about the value of drinking water from community water supplies.  Drinking water from public water supplies is safe, meeting all of the water quality standards required by law.  It is so easily accessible that many times the public takes their tap water for granted.  The message should be positive and funny, putting a creative and unique twist on the everyday use of tap water.  The videos should answer the question of why tap water is important to you, your home, your family, your community, etc.  The message that the video conveys is the most important component and the content should address one or more of the following:


1.      Create awareness of how much our tap water means to our daily lives and how fortunate we are to have it available to us.

2.      Demonstrate the consequences that could occur if we didn’t have tap water available to us.  (Remember, funny and creative.)

3.      Create public awareness about the value of our tap water, especially demonstrate how we often take for granted the cost effectiveness and convenience of having clean, safe tap water readily available.


 The Schedule


October  15, 2009 – Deadline to submit alternate ideas for your video.

December 11, 2009 – Deadline for submission of videos. 

January 15, 2010 – Winners announced.




            There will be four winners selected for the video competition; 1st place will receive $1000 ($500 for their school/club/department, and $500 for the teacher/sponsor).  2nd place will receive $500 ($250 for their school/science club and $250 for the teacher/sponsor). 3rd place will receive $300 ($150 for their school/science club and $150 for the teacher/sponsor). 4th place will receive $200 ($100 for their school/science club and $100 for the teacher/sponsor). The contest website will include all of the winning videos and a paragraph about the science program at those schools (a photo of the team/club/school would be great too). Additional video submissions will be displayed at the discretion of the judges. This website will be viewed nationally and the videos will be shared among many organizations that promote the value of a safe, dependable community water supply. In addition, the winning videos will be put on YouTube and DVD’s of the videos will be sent to television stations in Illinois for on air play as public service announcements.




-          This program is open to any high school student or student group in Illinois.

-          Only teachers/adult sponsors at accredited Illinois high schools are eligible for prizes.

-          The judges’ decisions are final.  Videos will be judged by a committee of water industry professionals using the following 3 criteria:

  • 40% - content and delivery of the message in relation to the stated goals

  • 35% - creativity and originality in idea, presentation, and interpretation

  • 25% - quality of the production

-          Videos are to be based on the 10 ideas provided.  Should a group feel they have an original idea that meets the rules and goals of the program, they can submit their idea to Steve Wilson at the email address listed below.  The judges will review the request and respond within 10 days.  Original ideas are encouraged, but certainly not required.

-          The "message" should be both creative and positive.  There should be no derogatory material in the video toward any individual, group, or product.  Any item submitted that is deemed derogatory will be disqualified.

-          The videos must be original work and not submitted previously for any contest or event.

-          The videos should not contain any advertisements or endorsements of any kind and must not infringe on any third party rights.

-          Videos must be submitted as either a Quicktime/MOV, WMV, MPEG, or AVI.

-          Video files should be less than 100MB in size

-          Videos can be submitted by mail or in person on CD or DVD.  Entries should be mailed to: Steve Wilson, MTAC, 2204 Griffith Drive, Champaign, IL 61820.

-          Videos can be submitted electronically via ftp at:


ftp server:

username: mtac

password: tapwater


-          Every participant in a video must have a signed individual release/entry form completed. Every individual that is part of the team submitting a video must also complete a video release form.  All releases are due by December 11, 2009.  


The Ideas


            The ideas listed below are starting points.  They should give you a direction to follow, to enable your group to come up with a video that is uniquely yours. At the same time, the video should be focused on the central theme of the contest, describing the value of tap water to our lives.  You can use one of the ideas below, spin one of them in a new direction, or come up with a completely different idea that maybe we didn’t think about.  Just let us know if you have a different idea; you must have our approval for any ideas not listed below.


1.  A father yells at his son to water the grass.  Instead of turning on the sprinkler, because there is no tap water, the son goes to the garage and grabs two large bottles of water from the many cases of water they have on hand, takes off the caps, and begins running around the yard "watering the grass", dumping water from the bottles instead.

2.  Because they have no water at their home, a family makes their daily trek to a nearby lake, carrying their towels, soap, shampoo, etc, so they can take baths.

3.   A young child needs to "go potty" but has to wait while his/her daddy fills a large bottle/bucket on the ground outside, and carries it up to the 2nd story bathroom, so that there is water to flush.

4.  Kids ask if they can play in the pool…Mom/Dad says okay…segue to kids running around the bottom of an empty pool wearing life preservers, swim fins, snorkels, etc. and verbally wondering why "the folks" talk so much about how they loved to play in the pool when they were kids (maybe a dream sequence with water filled pool) because this doesn’t seem to be much fun.

5.  Someone yells "water fight" and you see empty balloons being thrown, kids posturing with hoses that have no water stream, squirt guns or super soakers that have "bang" style flags that say "water" when you pull the trigger, kids making throwing gestures with empty glasses and pitchers…

6. A family has a morning "emergency drill" because it starts raining.  They mobilize equipment in the garage and yard to collect rainwater so they will have water to use in the home.

7. Show a long line of people waiting to collect their daily water ration.  City workers would be lined up behind multiple gas burners, like those used for frying turkeys, boiling large pots of water to purify the water before it can be handed out.

8. A group finds a ghost town, someone asks what happened, and they tell the story of  how the town took their water for granted.  It could be about the town not keeping up the water system, or just about the loss of their water supply.

9. Someone comes to a town with no tap water – there are signs as you enter town saying "dry" town, vendors are selling water for very high prices, there are signs with costs for things like using the restroom (very expensive), restaurant, etc. There is even a sign with info on day water truck comes to town

10. Show animals gathered around a watering hole in Africa or other dry place, then switch to a similar scene of people approaching a lake, a well, or another water source, getting water and/or taking water home with them.



The Project Committee


            This program is being made available by the generous efforts and contributions of the following groups:


            Midwest Technology Assistance Center, University of Illinois

            Association of State Drinking Water Administrators

            Central Planning Region Groundwater Protection Committee

            Tazewell County Health Department

            Illinois Section American Water Works Association  

            Illinois Science Teachers Association

            Illinois American Water Company





            Please contact Steve Wilson, Midwest Technology Assistance Center, University of Illinois, with any questions or comments, (217) 333-0956,



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