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.
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TEACHERS: You can get Lesson Plans to discuss groundwater with students from the National Groundwater Association HERE

Merri-Lisas-invite310x180“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.
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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.

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written-on-water_frontcover_sm 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.
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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

Jay-F-review

WRITTEN-ON-WATER-LAURELS

FILM FESTIVALS
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

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Reviews

  1. ‘Written on Water’ explores the emerging reality of disappearing groundwater and its impact on the future of farming in the United States. It is a must see for anyone interested in water, the environment, and the looming challenges of sustaining food production.’
    – Jay Famiglietti, hydrologist, a professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine, and the Senior Water Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

    “Written on Water is an engrossing saga of uncertainty in the face of certain doom. The farmers and townsfolk all know that the Ogallala Aquifer is headed toward depletion but don’t know when it will occur or whether anything can or should be done. And lest you think you have no stake in this High Plains drama, remember that the next time you enjoy a sandwich or slip on a comfortable cotton garment.”
    – Michael E. Campana, Professor, Oregon State University and Technical Director, American Water Resources Association

    “Our goal is to elevate the discussion about water law and resources and this is a great way to start doing just that. The collaboration with the Written On Water team has been fantastic. I’m thrilled that they are bringing this film to Lubbock. When I first arrived in Lubbock, I wanted to think about ways to engage the West Texas community, farmers, students, and other professors at Texas Tech in thinking about water resources and water policy,” says Professor Pearl, Director of the Center for Water Law and Policy. “What better way to do that than to show an engaging and beautifully crafted film directly on the issue?”
    – Alex Pearl, Law Professor and Associate Director of the Center for Water Law and Policy at Texas Tech University School of Law.

    “Written on Water tells the human story of groundwater exhaustion: the tension between today’s private property and tomorrow’s economic future. It is a film rich in imagery, reflection and, most importantly, compassion.”
    -Sharlene Leurig, Texas Environmental Flows Project Director

    MAGAZINE AND PRESS REVIEWS:

    D Magazine says “Written On Water one of five best films to see at Thin Line Festival!” By Peter Simek
    http://frontrow.dmagazine.com/2016/02/5-texas-docs-to-see-at-this-weeks-thin-line-festival/

    Thin Line Festival review:
    Written On Water illustrates current Ogallala groundwater struggle. By Scott Campbell, Discover Denton
    “For a sobering look at what is taking place now and what we must conquer in the future with regard to THE liquid universally vital to life, don’t miss seeing this film!” http://www.discoverdenton.com/thin-line-written-water/

    Written On Water, By Eric Muehlhausen – Edge Monthly
    https://issuu.com/edgemonthly/docs/edge_web_march_2016/8
    “Written On Water presents an in-depth look at how communities…are feeling the fallout from aquifer exhaustion. As the Ogallala Aquifer continues to expend its reserves, farmers have to look for new water sources…Water property rights & state policy collide as farmers vie for the necessary “agricultural ambrosia” that gives life to their crops.”

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