Oct 16, 2018

Are we running dry?

Matt Weir / The Collegian

Environmental planner-turned documentary filmmaker Jim Thebaut brings his film “The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?” to California State University, Fresno.

The film, which follows the success of its predecessor, “Running Dry,” illustrates the effects of worldwide water shortages.

After Thebaut talked with Senator Paul Simon and read his book, “Tapped Out,” which delves into the future crises that could come from water shortages, he decided to do a film on the subject.

Thebaut, who has produced documentary films and television shows for networks such as CBS, HBO, and The Arts & Entertainment Network, said that the more he dug into it the water issue, or lack thereof, the more he realized how severe the issue was.

According to Thebaut, the Delta’s water issue (as well as the water issues in Southern California) is a, “ticking time bomb.” He believes the problem may pose a threat to national security.

Dr. David Zetland, S.V. Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow in Natural Resource Economics and Political Economy at UC Berkeley will speak on the issue from an environmental, political and economical stance.

“Water is always a local problem,” Zetland said. “You might have a flood in Georgia and, at the same time, you’ll have a drought in New Mexico.”

According to Zetland, “Thebaut’s film is one of the better movies regarding the issue right now, especially because the concentration on the American Southwest.”

The documentary focuses on the millions of people who depend on the Colorado River for water resources. The problem, however, there might not be enough water for the growing population. States such as New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California have been impacted most by the water crisis, according to Zetland.

Zetland said that the problems with water usage are complicated, but not unsolvable. The repercussions of nothing being done, however, could prove catastrophic.

“We could end the shortage today if we manage properly,” Zetland said. “The thing that [upsets me] about Schwarzenegger is he is asking for more dams, which is an expensive way to get more water.”

“The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?” is tremendously politically balanced,” Thebaut said. “I think that students will be future leaders, and they need to understand our environmental issues and the implications that go along with them.”

Both Thebaut and Zetland agree on water legislation issues, but specifically the lack of action by both the California State Legislature and Gov. Schwarzenegger.

“I want people to take action, to be cognizant of what’s going on in their community, to get involved, to read as much as they can in order to hold officials accountable,” Thebaut explained. “The only way to solve these problems is through education.”

The Cineculture Club will dive into water issues tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Peters Education Building.

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