Written on Water
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"Written On Water focuses on the Ogallala Aquifer and examines the conflicts, politics, economics and groundwater depletion in the High Plains region. Farmers and communities survive on the precious waters of the Aquifer, yet it is being depleted at alarming rates. Since the 1960’s, advances in irrigation technology allowed farmers to transform the ‘Great American Desert’ into their own fertile agricultural oasis. The Ogallala supports over one-fifth of the grain, beef and cotton of the U.S. agricultural economy and over eighty percent of the drinking water for people living in the High Plains. But the Rocky Mountain waters that fed the Ogallala Aquifer are not being replenished, so essentially, the Aquifer is being mined.
The film follows farmers and a West Texas community that is struggling to survive as the wells run dry. The story highlights the tension between property rights advocates and State-mandated pumping limits. In States that support private ownership, such as California and Texas, property rights reign supreme, by statute and tradition.
In Texas, the management of the common resource is restricted under the Rule of Capture, also called, “The Law Of the Biggest Pump,” which states that landowners are allowed to pump as much as they want, regardless of the effects on neighboring wells. But some are fighting back. Innovators like the Mayor of Olton, Texas and conservationist farmers are using advanced technologies to conserve the water and change the way we value water.
Right now, Aquifer depletion is straining western States such as California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. Aquifers in the Middle East, India and South America are being depleted. The West Texas story is a microcosm for a global issue. The film presents perspectives on water conservation, individual property rights, state policy and science, as well as the fallout these issues have on the human story that often go unseen. Written On Water does not offer easy answers but rather seeks to spark discussion about the complexities in developing sustainable water usage in communities where the reality of groundwater decline is colliding with a cultural legacy of independence and self-determination.
Produced, Directed and Edited by Merri Lisa Trigilio
Closed Captioned | 2015
RUN TIME 57 minutes
WorldFest-Houston Film Festival, Houston Tx, April 2016 REMI WINNER
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital, Washington DC, March 2016
Thin Line Festival, Denton TX, February 2016
Colorado Environmental Film Festival, Golden CO, February 2016
SXSW ECO (excerpts), Austin, TX, October 2015
MEETINGS AND CONFERENCES
Upcoming: Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, film screening and panelist on Ogallala Aquifer Symposium September 2016
Texas Leadership Roundtable on Water at State Capitol, Austin, TX March 2016
Water + Film Symposium, Presented by Texas Tech University's Center for Water Law and Policy, Lubbock, TX, February 2016
Governor's Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas (excerpts), Manhattan, KS, November 2015