Global Water Issues: Watershed Threats

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

RiverBlue – International Trailer, by RiverBlue, 2016 (2:14).

RiverBlue 2016 Film Festivals Screening Schedule

NWNL Comment: International river conservationists examine pollution by fashion’s textile and tanning industries. This documentary, an Explorers Club flag expedition, examines degradation of our rivers, its effect on human health, and sustainable options for consumers – especially those buying bluejeans.

Spiralling global temperatures by Ed Hawkins, 2016 (0:26).

NWNL Comment: Recent prolonged droughts, raging wildfires, intense heat spells, and increasingly strong storms are subjects NWNL documents as they threaten the availablity and quality of our freshwater supplies. Higher temperatures in N. American and African watersheds – and across the globe – are in direct correlation with these destructive events. These animations published by Washington Post and Bloomberg News very clearly graph the planet’s warming from 1880 through 2015.

Dear Future Generations: Sorry by Stand For Trees, 2015 (6:02).

NWNL Comment: Prince EA poignantly apologizes to imagined future generations for not having properly cared for Earth’s forest and water resources for them. NWNL first viewed this at an African Rainforest Conservancy event honoring Prince EA.

Nature Is Speaking – Water by Conservation International, 2014 (1:28).

Excerpt from CI’s comments: Picture the world the size of a classroom globe. Now imagine a small marble; this is larger than the 0.4% of fresh water available for us to use – the amount not locked up in glaciers or underground. This “marble” is what allows all people on Earth to survive and thrive. In addition to quenching our thirst, it waters our crops, helps prevent the spread of disease and provides a huge source of electric power.

Our ponds, streams, rivers and lakes contain a larger concentration of life than terrestrial or marine biomes, providing habitat for about 120,000 species (about 8% of all known species). Freshwater plants and animals provide their own benefits for people, from food to water filtration to storm buffering and everything in between. Yet fresh water, voiced by Penélope Cruz, is in grave danger.

NWNL Comment: This short film clearly states that the amount of water on earth is finite, yet the number of people are growing as are their needs for water. How will we share this finite resource?

63 Years of Global Warming in 14 Seconds by, 2014 (0:14).

From the Producers: This 14-second animation from our friends at NASA depicts how temperatures around the globe have warmed since 1950. You’ll note an acceleration of the temperature trend in the late 1970s as greenhouse gas emissions from energy production increased worldwide and clean air laws reduced emissions of pollutants that had a cooling effect on the climate, and thus were masking some of the global warming signal.

The data come from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York (GISS), which monitors global surface temperatures. As NASA notes, “All 10 of the warmest years in the GISS analysis have occurred since 1998, continuing a trend of temperatures well above the mid-20th century average.”

Drought Reveals Energy And Water Use Inseparably Linked by CBS News San Francisco, 2014 (1:46).

NWNL Comment: Water expert Peter Gleick shares facts regarding the interdependence of water and energy needs in this flick suggesting we find a new management approach coordinating energy and water supplies and usage.

Watermark by Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky, 2013 (trailer 1:16; movie 92 min.).

NWNL Commentary: Watermark is a documentary feature film featuring aerial photography of Edward Burtynsky and sharing diverse stories about our world’s relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use. It includes scenes of Chinese abalone farms and Xiluodu arch dam, the Colorado River and leather tanneries of Dhaka – as well as CA surfers and Ganges bathers. Scientists discuss drilling ice cores two kilometers deep into the Greenland Ice Sheet, and exploring pristine watersheds of Northern British Columbia. This film shows water as a terraforming element, and too often taken for granted.

Last Call at the Oasis documentary by Jessica Wu for Participant Media – 2012 (trailer 2:11; movie 99 min.).

Description by Participant Media: LAST CALL AT THE OASIS presents a powerful argument for why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century.

Illuminating the vital role water plays in our lives, exposing the defects in the current system and depicting communities already struggling with its ill-effects, the film features activist Erin Brockovich and such distinguished experts as Peter Gleick, Alex Prud’homme, Jay Famiglietti and Robert Glennon.

NWNL Comment: This full-length film addresses the current rapid depletion of water supplies caused by agricultural overuse, rampant development and global climate change. It shows examples of contamination, including mutant frogs’ endocrine systems damaged by chemicals in pesticides; Erin Brockovitch’s documentation of raging cancer rates in certain towns; and toxic runoffs from huge feedlot lagoons of cow manure. Watersheds discussed include those affecting fast-growing Las Vegas draining nearby Lake Mead and the San Francisco Bay Area draining the Central Valley of CA. Issues discussed range from the specter of less snow in US West mountains to political paralysis, corporate trickery and human avoidance.

Water Shortage by Illustrated Ideas for, 2012 (4:03).

Description by Created for the Water Day Film Festival. There is no shortage of ways that you can make a difference. For more information on how you can help end the water crisis in your lifetime go to

NWNL Comment: Basic facts surrounding water supplies are illustrated in this film by simple drawings and a video clip from Africa. Asking how one would cope without water, this is a good educational tool for those beginning to understand the value of our freshwater resources.

Fresh Water: The Essence of Life by iLCP and Conservation International (Peter Stonier, Becca Field, John Martin), 2011 (4:50).

Description by iLCP: Please watch and share this beautiful and powerful video about the vital life force, fresh water.

NWNL Comment: Honoring the sacred aspects of water with which we’ve lost touch, this film documents the loss of wetlands and species, the increase of deadly waterborne diseases, the lack of sanitation and water scarcity. Solutions include better management and reduced consumption.

GLOOP by Gaby Bastyra, 2010 (3:48).

NWNL Comment: A new documentary short told as a nursery-school chant by a young girl tracing the discovery and impacts of plastic on our oceans, rivers and environment in general. Putting this message in the mouth of today’s youngest generation adds a gutsy impact to the now-familiar story of the forever-here debris of non-biodegradable plastics that seem to be in every corner our life.

Urban Water Efficiency: Securing Water Abundance by MIYA Arison Group, 2010 (1:29).

Description by MIYA: One third of the world’s drinking water supply is lost from municipal distribution systems before it reaches the consumer. Watch MIYA’s video to learn more about the situation.

NWNL Comment: This video contains startling facts about urban water loss. By 2007 more than half of the world’s population lived in urban areas, where 1/3 of the world’s urban water supply is lost but only 10% of those leaks are visible. Cutting those losses by half could supply 130 million people who don’t have easy access to clean freshwater.

Poisoned Waters preview (3:18)

Poisoned Waters written by Hedrick Smith and Rick Young for PBS-Frontline, 2009 (54:52). Available for $20 from ShopPBS. Educational DVDs of Poisoned Waters are available from ShopPBS for Teachers. A transcript of Poisoned Waters is available on this page.

From the Producers: In Poisoned Waters, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith examines the growing hazards to human health and the ecosystem.

NWNL Comment: This award-winning and scientifically-sound documentation of threats and solutions to water quality in Puget Sound and Chesapeake Bay uses an investigative methodology very similar to that of NWNL. It has been highly recommended by professional environmental and scientific communities focused on water quality. More information. 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 issues and solutions for saving US waterways.

Water Views by Aaron Jaffe for Circle of Blue, 2009 (3:26).

Description by Circle of Blue: A comprehensive GlobeScan/Circle of Blue international public opinion survey on attitudes about fresh water sustainability, management and conservation finds that people around the world view water issues as the planet’s top environmental problem, greater than air pollution, depletion of natural resources, loss of habitat and even climate change. The poll surveyed 1,000 people in each of 15 countries, and probed 500 in each of the following countries on specific questions: Canada, China, India, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

NWNL Comment: Stockholm’s World Water Week ’09 discussions center on how Malthusian principles and surveys showing that when concerns become people’s top priority, that’s when the political will is created – in both industrialized and developing nations. Public pressure is what will force governments to face water management issues.

Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water by Maude Barlow and Tony Clark, 2008 (trailer, 2:37).

From the Producers: The film examines the problems created by the privatization and commoditization of water. Global Warming is an issue of how we live, the water crisis is an issue of if we live.

NWNL Comment: Since water is an essential raw material that is easily exploited for profit, it could easily be the source of conflicts and water wars.

A Conversation with Peter Gleick by Circle of Blue (Aaron Jaffe), 2008 (2:36).

Description by Circle of Blue: Peter Gleick, science advisor for Circle of Blue and president of the Pacific Institute, talks about the need to redefine how nations address water issues. With known solutions for the water crisis and hope for the future, Gleick notes that the only missing piece for a better future is the political and social will to change. Gleick points out that “it’s hard to think of an aspect of our lives that isn’t touched by fresh water.”

NWNL Comment: In this video Peter Gleick, well-known author of books focused on water issues, discusses redefining how nations address water issues in a positive manner. Acknowledging that indeed there are solutions for the water crisis, Gleick notes that humans know water is of utmost importance to all of us and imbue it with a spiritual quality to it. So as we face more contamination and more competition for water supplies, we just need to understand the tools and accept the commitment needed to solve those problems.

Flow: Who owns the worlds water supply? by Irena Salina for Oscilloscope Laboratories, 2008 (trailer, 2:18).

Description by Irena Salina: Irena Salina’s award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century – The World Water Crisis.

NWNL Comment: The full-length film represented by this trailer presents top experts and advocates discussing pollution, wastefulness, privatization and corporate water usage. The film warns that water bottling companies particularly are abusing our water supply at an unsustainable level.

Good: Water by Max Joseph for Good Magazine, 2008 (2:31).

Description by Good Magazine: For World Water Day 2008, we look at the planet’s water, how it’s being used, and the increasing strains on this vital resource. Drink up!

NWNL Comment: This info-graphic video has some new and different facts about our water consumption today, using an olde-timey style to highlight the lack of awareness we used to have – or maybe still have!

A World without Water by Brian Woods, 2006 (75:28).

Description by Brian Woods: This film investigates the future of the world’s water, and paints a disturbing picture of a world running out of the most basic of life’s essentials. Eight-year-old Vanessa and her parents have to walk almost a mile down the cliffs of El Alto in Bolivia to collect water from an unreliable well every day. Yet they live just a few hundred metres from their city’s main water treatment plant and can see millions of gallons just beyond the barbed wire fence. They are victims of water’s increasing commodification. In 2000, the members of the United Nations committed to halving the number of people in the world without access to water, by 2015. But within our lifetime, over half of the world’s population will be living without access to safe water and sanitation.

NWNL Comment: This UK full-length film chronicles lives revolving around water, the frustratation when the well is empty when finally reached, and the grief over water so contaminated that it infects and kills young children. The filmmaker worries that the lack of awareness and response to water shortage by the rich world and wealthy corporations, if not dealt with, will affect all people, if not dealt with now.