‘Watershed’ movie: ‘I think we have such a tendency to think short, short term, and therefore apply short term solutions to longer term problems’ — Robert Redford


From Reuters (Robert Muir):

[Robert] Redford, 76, who lives in Utah, traveled to Washington, D.C. along with Jamie Redford, a Northern California resident, to discuss the urgency of the message in their film, “Watershed,” featured recently at the D.C. Environmental Film Festival.

Both father and son have been tireless vocal advocates for conservation, particularly in the western United States. Their documentary, produced by Jamie Redford and narrated by his father, draws attention to the enormous and, they say, unsustainable demands on the Colorado River system that provides much of the American west with water…

The film opens with an explanation of the history of the Colorado River system’s development, starting with the Colorado River Compact of 1922, which provided for the equitable division and apportionment of the water among seven states in the U.S. and two in Mexico.

But “Watershed” holds that the compact, 90 years later, has transformed one of the world’s wildest rivers to the point where it will soon be unable to provide sufficient water for the populations dependent upon it.

“With population in the region expected to reach 50 million by 2050, temperatures rising and precipitation patterns becoming more erratic, demand will outpace supply unless we embrace a new water ethic” Redford says in the film…

The film illustrates the various demands on the Colorado River through the eyes of the people who live on it, from a fly-fishing instructor near the river’s source to farmers and families living downstream. Jamie Redford said that by enlisting real people in the project, the issue was more likely to resonate with audiences.

“It was pretty clear from our point of view that what we wanted to do was specifically focus on people, and we wanted to take a positive look at what is a challenging situation,” he said.

“So, in that regard, we found characters up and down the river from the headwaters all the way out to the Colorado delta in Mexico that are fighting to make a difference and are making a difference and setting an example of what you can do.”

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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