10th Annual Access Sacramento High School PSA Project

The Client is Sacramento Area Sewer District

Competition Resources

This project is brought to you by a Confluence Regional Partnership Program grant funded by the Sacramento Area Sewer District. Students enrolled in high school media production classes in Sacramento County are invited to produce 30-second public service announcements (PSAs) on selected topics from the Sacramento Area Sewer District.

Access Sacramento is proud to provide a Linked Learning opportunity for high school media production classes in Sacramento County to work with an industry partner.; the client will judge the entries based on the criteria noted below. The top six selected PSAs will win award cash prizes, and an Award of Excellence certificate from Access Sacramento. Client-selected PSAs will air on Access Sacramento and will be used as part of the client’s social media outreach and/or website use. So your PSA message has to be accurate to be aired on local television.

Purposes: This is an opportunity to provide video production and animation students real-world experience in creating public service announcements for real clients. High school students will develop 30-second videos to communicate information requested by a client.

Eligible Participants:  This project is open to any student enrolled in an animation or video production class in a high school located in Sacramento County.


Winning entries receive:

Animated PSA

  • $400 – 1st Place Animation
  • $300 – 2nd Place Animation
  • $250 – 3rd Place Animation

Live Action PSA

  • $400 – 1st Place Live Action
  • $300 – 2nd Place Live Action
  • $250 – 3rd Place Live Action

Honorable Mentions

  • $100 – Five (5) Honorable Mentions (Animation or Live Action)

Additional Awards

  • Additional Award of Merit certificates could also be awarded at the judges’ discretion, without a cash prize.
  • All winning filmmakers receive a printed Access Sacramento Certificate of Excellence. (These selections are made by the client.)
  • Access Sacramento will recognize the top winners on a live episode of “LiveWire!”, a locally-produced community talk show.
  • Winning PSAs will air on Sacramento County cable television, channel 17 and streamed on www.AccessSacramento.org.

Teacher Awards

  • Top three (3) teachers who submit the highest number of PSAs will receive an Amazon gift card of $150.
  • The next six (6) teachers with the highest number of PSAs will receive a $50 Amazon gift card.

Participating Teachers’ Responsibilities: (Sacramento County Media Teachers)

  • Respond to invitation to participate by October 27, 2023.
  • Introduce PSA unit to students. (Start no later than mid-February 2024.)
  • Students can work individually or in groups of up to three receiving “producer” credit. (Note that the award prize money will be split between the producers.)
  • Collect the Talent Release Form from each person appearing in the video and the Project Forms from the producers. You must keep these on file, do not send them to the coordinator.  They will only be requested in the event of an issue.
  • Either the teacher or the students can upload the video files through a Google form which is available hereLinks to each video submitted for judging should be sent to the coordinator by the competition deadline, March 1, 2024.

Participating Students’ Responsibilities:

  • Read the content criteria carefully.
  • Develop a creative production that meets the client’s needs.
  • This project can be produced individually or as part of a producer group of up to three. You can include as many people as you need on screen.
  • Make sure that all video footage must be shot by students. No stock footage is allowed.
  • The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create any part of your film  is prohibited. This includes but is not limited to script, images, video footage, animation, editing, etc. We ask that you act with honesty and integrity as you create your films for this contest.
  • Make sure the PSA is exactly 30 seconds long. Do not include credits.
  • Give your PSA a unique name (not just “Sewer PSA”). The title does not need to appear in the actual PSA. It is just for reference.
  • Complete the Online Release Form. Obtain all needed signatures.
  • Submit the PSA by the deadline set by your teacher. (No later than March 1, 2024)
  • Make sure Talent Release Form is signed by everyone who appears on camera.
  • Make sure the Project Release Form is completed with all needed signatures.
  • Export the file as HD, if it was shot that way.
  • Name the exported file with the client name, one producer’s last name and the high school you are from.

EXAMPLE: SewerDistrict_Smith_Franklin.mp4

  • If there is more than one producer, list each last name, up to a maximum of three:

EXAMPLE: SewerDistrict_Martinez_Jones_Nguyen_Center.mov

  • Once your PSA is uploaded to the location your teacher requests, make sure to provide the video link to your teacher along with a separate “Credits” document that includes the producers’ full names.
  • If you use music under the Creative Commons license, you should credit it too.
  • If you are loading the video to a YouTube channel, DO NOT set the video to PRIVATE. Instead, set it to UNLISTED and load your credits in the detail area.

Copyrighted Material

If you include any copyrighted materials, your entry must obtain PERMISSION WAIVERS or Creative Commons Licensing obtained from their sources. All videos, photos, and music must be original OR proof of permission to use the copyrighted elements must be obtained. Videos that contain unauthorized copyrighted elements will be disqualified. Note: You are permitted and expected to use the client’s logo.

Creative Commons Music

If you use music under a Creative Commons license, you may credit the music in very small type for a few frames at the bottom of the screen within the final moments of your PSA. Additionally, you may also credit it within the PSA’s YouTube description.

Release Forms

Student producers must obtain release forms for any minors or adults appearing in the production. The forms are not collected by Access Sacramento, but the sponsoring teacher must confirm that the forms are on file. Up to three producer names can be listed on a project.

Key Dates

  • March 1, 2024 : Links to videos submitted for consideration are sent to the coordinator.
  • March 20, 2024: Access Sacramento announces winners, prints and mails certificates and student checks to appropriate school teacher. Then Access Sacramento releases press release about results.
  • April 17, 2024: Access Sacramento hosts the top six PSA winners on “LiveWire!, the popular local cable channel 17 in-studio talk show with host Ray Tatar.

Judging Criteria

  • Message Effectiveness: (Message aligned with client’s needs; evokes a response in the viewer. This is a key element to winning.) 40%
  • Creativity: (Idea or approach is fresh and engaging) 20%
  • Aesthetics: (Attention to composition, lighting) 20%
  • Sound: (Narration and/or dialog is clear; Music (if any) set the appropriate emotional response; Audio levels are appropriate) 20%; Music, if any, is used legally. 20%

2023-2024 Public Service Announcement Topics

Read below to get the information on the 2023-2024 PSA topics.

Client: Sacramento Area Sewer District

The Sacramento Area Sewer District (SacSewer) is the Sacramento region’s sewage collection, treatment, and resource recovery utility–providing service to more than 1.6 million people. As California’s second-largest sewage utility, we own and operate more than 4,700 miles of sewer pipes, more than 100 pump stations, and the EchoWater Resource Recovery Facility located near Elk Grove, California.

We provide service to residential, commercial, and industrial customers throughout unincorporated Sacramento County; the cities of Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Sacramento, and West Sacramento; and the communities of Courtland, Locke, and Walnut Grove. The services we provide vary based on the location within our service area.

SacSewer is interested in developing public awareness in the following topic areas.


Topic/Key Message: Sewer Problems? Call SacSewer First!

Focus: At SacSewer, we like it when our customers don’t have to think twice about the public sewer system. We’re the region’s largest sewage collection utility, and our job is to get to your sewer problem before it interrupts your life. For us, providing excellent service isn’t optional—it’s our number one priority.

When SacSewer’s customers have a sewer problem (e.g., backup, overflow, slow drain, etc.), they should call us first—day or night—at (916) 875-6730. Our crews respond to sewer problems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year—including weekends and holidays. Our crews will determine if the problem is our responsibility or the customer’s to fix (learn more at SacSewer vs. customer responsibility). If it is SacSewer’s responsibility, we will correct the problem. If it is not, we will advise the customer on what to do next (e.g., call a plumber). Even if the problem is in the customer’s portion of the line, our service calls carry no additional cost to the customer. They are covered by the monthly sewer rates customers pay.

Commonly used tagline: It’s a dirty job, but we’re happy to do it!

This PSA should end with the SacSewer logo and the closing line: “Learn more at sacsewer.com.” or you can use the End Graphic element that is available here below.

Resource: www.sacsewer.com/report-sewer-problem


Topic/Key Message: No Wipes in the Pipes

Focus: Wipes, rags, paper towels, and other damaging materials are being flushed into the sewer system, causing serious problems for SacSewer’s equipment and maintenance crews. Only toilet paper and human waste should be flushed—nothing else.

Why are wipes such a big problem? Disposable disinfectant wipes, baby wipes, and even wipes labeled as “flushable” are causing problems for sewer systems around the world. These products do not break down easily (or at all) once they are flushed. They often clog our pipes and jam our pumps, causing costly and messy sewer blockages and overflows. In areas where wipes and other materials are flushed regularly, increased monitoring, maintenance, and repair is often necessary. This results in higher operational costs, which are paid for by customers’ sewer rates. Bottom line: People who use wipes should put them in the trash, not in the toilet.

Commonly used tagline: Do the sewers a favor—trash the wipes, not the pipes!

This PSA should end with the SacSewer logo and the closing line: “Learn more at sacsewer.com.” or you can use the End Graphic element that is available here below.

Resources, storyline, and character inspiration: www.stoptheclog.com


Topic/Key Message: Fats, Oils, and Grease

Focus: Fats, oils, and grease (F.O.G.) that find their way down the drain create a huge problem for sewer pipes. In fact, F.O.G. combined with roots in the sewer system can create massive clogs that cause more than half of SacSewer’s sewer backups and overflows! This can result in costly cleanup and repairs, as well as harmful environmental impacts.

The Stop the Clog program educates residential customers, property managers, and the food service industry to properly dispose of F.O.G.

What is the source of the problem? The majority of sewer backups and overflows caused by F.O.G. originate in residential areas. Some common sources of F.O.G. include the following:

  • Meat
  • Fatty food scraps
  • Lard
  • Salad dressings
  • Creamy or oily sauces
  • Marinades
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Shortening
  • Butter or margarine
  • Peanut butter

You can help prevent clogs by properly disposing of F.O.G. Avoid the mess and keep your pipes flowing by following these simple steps in the kitchen:

  • Can it: Once cooled, put hardened fats, oils and grease into a sturdy container—like a leftover soup can. Then, put the container in the garbage.
  • Scrape it: Scrape all food scraps, including fatty and greasy leftovers, into the Organics cart, NOT down the drain.
  • Pro tip! For used cooking oil—like what’s needed for deep-frying—check with your local waste service provider for proper disposal.

Resources, storyline, and character inspiration: www.stoptheclog.com

This PSA should end with the SacSewer logo and the closing line: “Learn more at sacsewer.com.” or you can use the End Graphic element that is available here below.

Topic/Key Message: Cockroaches

Focus: Sometimes warmer weather means an influx of pests in and around the sewer system. So, what exactly is going on? Pests, like cockroaches, are natural to most environments and like dark, damp spaces, such as storm drains and sewer pipes. In drier conditions—like Sacramento summers—these pests seek water sources and shelter—like the sewer system.

To help combat these pesky pests, here’s what you can do at home:

  • Eliminate potential food, water, and shelter sources that attract pests
  • Seal cracks and crevices around your home
  • Remove trash daily from home and keep lids closed on outdoor cans

Knowing who to call when you see these critters in and around your community is an important step.

  • In or around your property: Call a pest control company
  • In or around storm drains: Call your local stormwater utility
  • In or around a manholes: Call SacSewer at (916) 875-6730. If our investigation confirms cockroach activity in our pipes, pest control treatment will be scheduled.

Resources: www.sacsewer.com/cockroach

This PSA should end with the SacSewer logo and the closing line: “Learn more at sacsewer.com.” or you can use the End Graphic element that is available here below.


Topic/Key Message: Don’t Flush Your Meds

To prevent misuse and keep medications from entering our waterways, please dispose of unused prescription and over-the-counter medications responsibly. Flushing unused or expired medications down the sink or toilet can pollute the environment.

Proper disposal is easy!

  • Check for local disposal locations near you.
  • Check for local take-back events.
  • Check with your local pharmacy.
  • Check with a nearby household hazardous waste facility.

Learn more about these options at dontflushyourmeds.com.

Resource: dontflushyourmeds.com

This PSA should end with the SacSewer logo and the closing line: “Learn more at sacsewer.com.” or you can use the End Graphic element that is available here below.

End Graphics for the High School PSA Project

Please click here for SASD Slide.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can a student enter more than one video?
Answer: No, you can only submit one entry with your name as a producer.

Question: Can I contact the client and ask questions about my PSA idea.
Answer: No. Because of the number of students participating, we do not want to burden them with inquiries. The materials on this website should give you a clear idea of what the client wants. If you need additional directions, ask your teacher.

Question: Is the PSA running time flexible?
Answer: No.  It must be exactly 30 seconds including a fade in/out.

Question:  Do I put credits on it?
Answer:  No. Like commercials, PSAs do not feature credits. If you need to include music credits as dictated by a Creative Commons license, then add that in a very small text at the bottom of the required graphic.

Question: Can I put my favorite pop song in my PSA.
Answer: No. You must follow the copyright law. Any music or sound effects must be used properly licensed.

Question:  I still have questions.
Answer:  Students with additional questions should ask their teacher.  Teachers with questions can contact PSA Project coordinator Brad Clark at bnclark@egusd.net or Donna Girot, Executive Director, Access Sacramento at Execdir@AccessSacramento.org

Students with additional questions should ask their teacher. Teachers with questions can contact PSA Project Coordinator Brad Clark at bnclark@egusd.net or Donna Girot, Executive Director of Access Sacramento, at Execdir@AccessSacramento.org.

Congratulations to the 2023 High School PSA Competition Winners!

Forty-three teen-produced PSAs were created and judged. Some rose to the top and will be aired on local cable television channels 17 & 18 and on Access Sacramento’s OTT platforms including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Our most sincere thanks to our competition underwriters, the Sacramento Area Sewer District and the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District. Their Confluence Regional Partnership Grant includes public education programs that educate students, parents and general public through local area school educational efforts about good community water and sewer habits.

View Winners