Watersheds in North America

NWNL offers this list as a helpful resource,
but does not necessarily endorse the viewpoints of the videos below.

Poisoned Waters by PBS, 2009 (preview 3:18)

This Public Broadcasting “Frontline” documentary explores threats and solutions to water quality in 3 great US estuaries endangered by heavy pollution: The Chesapeake Bay and Washington’s Puget Sound. It has been highly recommended by professional, environmental and scientific communities focused on water quality. Documentary and more information.

NWNL Comment: PBS also created a Teacher’s Guide with discussion questions and Lesson Plan to use with the video as an educational outreach resource for nonprofits, foundations, activists, schools and colleges focusing on contaminant issues and solutions for saving US waterways.

California’s Drought May Cause Earthquakes by TakePart LLC, 2014 (5:23).

NWNL Comment: An article on leads with this video on California drought with impressive, albeit frightening, science in it. Nearly 60 percent of the state is in severe drought and farmers are depleting groundwater reserves at record rates. Withdrawal of groundwater has been accelerating in recent years, and this depletion has caused the land to sink as much as a foot a year. The depletion also lightens the tremendous load on the nearby San Andreas Fault. This may result in more frequent small earthquakes or even shorten the time before “the big one.” California has never regulated groundwater withdrawal, and regulators are now struggling to draft rules to manage it.

I Am Red by Peter McBride, 2013 (3:46).

NWNL Comment: A powerful 3 minute film on the Colorado River – American River’s Most Endangered River for 2013 – uses aerial and still photography to summarize the vulnerability of this valuable waterway, often called “The American Nile” or “The Canyon Maker.” The Colorado River runs 1450 miles across seven states and two countries supplying water for 36 million people. It flowed to the sea for six million years but has not kissed the ocean since the late 1990s. This video poem highlights the beauty and challenges of this national icon, and provides a link to American Rivers for taking action.

In 2014, after 15 years of hard work by environmental groups, for a few months the Colorado flowed to the Gulf of California. McBride and a few friends set out to complete the first-ever stand up paddleboard crossing of the delta. Their 16-minute film Delta Dawn won Best Short Mountain Film at the Banff Mountain Film Festival that year.

Guardians of the Everglades, Trailer by Guardians of the Everglades, 2012 (5:38)

Description by Guardians of the Everglades: The message is inescapable: the Everglades ecosystem is unique, necessary for our health, and important to people all over the world. This hour-long documentary film is due March (2013). It has been entered in the Washington, D. C., Environmental Film Festival and will also be entered in the Miami Environmental Film Festival.

NWNL Comment: The artists involved in this project are using the power of photography and painting to raise awareness of the fragility of endangered species in Florida’s Everglades, the need for clean water and the importance of an unimpeded flow of water.

Semper Fi: Always Faithful (Trailer) by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, 2011 (75 mins).

Description by Libert and Hardmon: Our film Semper Fi: Always Faithful follows the journey of Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger as he fights for justice on behalf of Marines and their families exposed to toxic drinking water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. In the process, we see this dutiful soldier transform himself into the activist he never imagined he’d become.

In many ways, the story of Semper Fi: Always Faithful is a classic David and Goliath tale, and it was this conflict and heroism that initially attracted us. We felt that this was a unique opportunity to tell the story of an environmental disaster from a very personal perspective…. We hope that Semper Fi: Always Faithful sheds light on the injustice at Camp Lejeune and illustrates that social change is possible, especially when undertaken by relentless and determined individuals.

NWNL Comment: This film on toxic drinking water found at one of the US most famous marine bases has provoked Congressional investigation and points a dirty finger at the pollution record of the US Department of Defense. The filmmakers’ message is that pollution can damage the lives of even the most loval, faithful and patriotic segments of our populations – as well as their infants. All watershed stakeholders must be watchful.

The Connecticut River: Partnership for Conservation by Jerry Monkman, 2011 (14:55).

Description by Jerry Monkman: “I produced this video to put a spotlight on the professionals I worked with during my 2 year documentary photography project in the Connecticut River watershed. At 7.2 million acres, the watershed is New England’s largest river system. It is geographically diverse, beginning in the moose-filled forests of northern New Hampshire, traveling more than 400 miles through the White Mountains and the rich farmland of NH, VT, MA, and CT before emptying into Long Island Sound in one of the richest wetland complexes on the eastern seaboard. 4.75 million acres in the watershed remain undeveloped and protected, providing ample opportunity for conservation.”

NWNL Comment: The values of the Connecticut River are exemplified by successful agricultrue in lands made fertile by the flood plains of the Connecticut River. Its reputation as a sewer and dumping ground has been wiped off the slate by conservation agencies and the Clean Water Act. Designated as an American Heritage River, the Connecticut’s dynamic riverine systems are protected by refuges and a million acres of conservation lands that are preserving the ecosystem’s biodiversity against the ravages of climate change.

Edge of the Everglades by WGCU Public Media, 2011, (26:47).

Description by WGCU: This includes interviews with leaders of the movement to protect the Big Cypress, as well as hunters, private camp owners, renowned Everglades photographer Clyde Butcher, and the Preserve’s wildlife biologists. Historic photographs and vintage film highlight the early efforts to include the Big Cypress in Everglades National Park, the subsequent logging of the Big Cypress, and the grassroots struggle to stop the Everglades Jetport.

NWNL Comment: After 60 seconds of detailed sponsor descriptions, this film includes old black and whites as well as new aerial footage to excite viewers with the beauty of this wetland as well as the ongoing threats to its existence. Energetic stewardship has ensured that this Big Cypress part of the Everglades ecosystem is still the least disturbed.

Our Story by Riverkeeper, 2011 (1:55).

Description by Riverkeeper: “Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. For more than 44 years Riverkeeper has been New York’s clean water advocate. We have helped to establish globally recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serve as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes nearly 200 Keeper programs across the country and around the globe.”

NWNL Comment: Riverkeeper has been protecting the Hudson for millions of water users, including millions in New York City. They have been raising awareness through many venues, fighting fracking, pollution, and other threats that keep the Hudson from being fishable, swim-able and drinkable. Riverkeeper has also set a model for many other watersheds’ riverkeepers.

Wetlands: The Drain Game by Ducks Unlimited Canada and Prairie Public Broadcasting, 2011 (46:46).

Description by Ducks Unlimited (Canada) and Prairie Public Broadcasting (North Dakota): These two organizations partnered to produce this half-hour documentary on wetlands and how their loss impacts flooding across Manitoba and Saskatchewan. This documentary was filmed in the spring and summer of 2011.

NWNL Comment: This is a clear presentation of wetlands values, threats and solutions, as they particularly apply to the trans-boundary wetlands region that extends from Canada’s Prairie Pothole (Edmonton) in the north down to Iowa’s vernal and seasonal wetlands. Their well-qualified interviewees discuss the impacts of lost wetlands on water quality, flood mitigation and carbon sequestration.

A Year in the Desert: Anza-Borrego by Chris Pile and Nicholas Clapp, 2010 (14:35).

Description by Anza-Borrego Foundation: Fundraising video for the Anza-Borrego Foundation. This short film was named Film of the Year by the Earthwatch Institute and was recognized at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, MT in 2010: Honorable Mention for Cinematography, Honorable Mention for Educational Value.

NWNL Comment: This film visually depicts the importance and beauty of oases, seasonal streams and rains – even snow in the winter. Water here is so vital for its native inhabitants: hummingbirds, snakes, long-horned sheep, tarantulas and mountain lions, as shown in this film, along with spectacular timelapses of spring wildflowers blooming in the desert.

Watershed Revolution by Rich Reid, 2009 (2:25 trailer for 30-minute film).

Description by Planet Earth Films: “Where does your water come from?” This question perplexed most of the audiences that Paul Jenkin surveyed during his worldwide lectures on ecosystems and dam removal. He was surprised to discover that the very few people in his own community understood the value of the Ventura River as an independent water supply, unique in Southern California. In order to raise awarenesss, in 2007, Jenkin and filmmaker Rich Reid set out to make a film documenting the issues affecting their watershed. Over a two year period, through floods, fire and drought, they visually define a watershed and other ways to protect future water supplies.

NWNL Comment: The answer to “What is a Watershed?” is explored through interviews with residents in this watershed. The unique challenges faced by this coastal California river and local needs for open space, flood plain protection, sustainable agriculture and community awareness are documented with the use of high definition and time-lapse cinematography.

Bill Nye the Science Guy – Wetlands by the National Science Foundation, 1995 (7:00).

NWNL Comment While this is an older film, it is an exuberant, yet timeless discussion of the scientific value of wetlands. It includes interviews with US Fish and Wildlife biologists, and raises awareness of threats including contaminants that are threatening the health of the Everglades and its species – as well as wetlands all over the planet.