When you turn on the tap do you think about where that water comes from? If you live in the American West it can be complicated. Mountain snowmelt flows into rivers and from there to reservoirs. But that’s not all. Reams of paper detail laws, some dating back to the 1800s, on who gets water and when, how much has to stay in rivers and flow over state borders, and what that water can be used for.
Drought conditions throughout the west have cut the water to California farmers, who are now sucking the ground water from aquifers to continue their livelihoods. River water is over-allocated and recreational users fight to use junior water rights that will allow enough water in the river to a keep rafting outfits and fish alive.
The population of Colorado is expected to double by 2050 and municipalities scramble to buy farms with senior water rights so they may accommodate growth and current populations. Meanwhile these farms are “dried up”, lost forever to agricultural use. In the desperate search for water, farmland in Colorado has become endangered. How will municipalities, farmers, beer brewers, computer chip manufacturers, and purveyors of hydraulic fracturing work together to ensure a healthy water supply for all? In Watering the West you’ll meet the people who aim to end these “western water wars” for good through cooperative solutions.
There are films about water scarcity, water pollution, and the privatization of water sources around the world. But the story of the history and looming crisis of water in the American West has yet to be thoroughly told. Your contribution will help us bring the story of this most precious resource, known in the American West as liquid gold, to the big screen.