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Written on Water: A Modern Tale of a Dry West     cover photo

Written on Water: A Modern Tale of a Dry West 2015


Distributed by Green Planet Films, PO Box 247, Corte Madera, CA 94976-0247; 415-377-5471
Produced by Deep Time Media, LLC
Directed by Merri Lisa Tregilio
DVD, color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Water, Texas, Agriculture, Ecology, Sociology

Date Entered: 09/16/2016

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

This beautifully filmed and produced film uses interviews, animation, and stunning visuals to illustrate the depletion of the Oglala Aquifer, which stretches from South Dakota though Nebraska, Eastern Wyoming, Eastern Colorado, Eastern New Mexico, Western and Central Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, and the Panhandle and western part of Texas. It is a vast area which holds an enormous portion of the country’s fresh water. Its existence has enabled more than a century of the vast agribusiness in these states and helped to feed and clothe much of the nation and the world for generations.

Now it is being depleted at a rate faster than it is being replenished, which endangers the way of life that the people of the High Plains have known for generations. This film explores many aspects of the debate over what to do to maintain the viability of agriculture in what is essentially a desert area. The focus of the film is centered on Olton, Texas and the farmers in this area who deal with not only the weather but the High Plains Underground Water District. Throw in a drought on top of all this and things do look dire.

The film is described as something of a springboard for discussion, which it is as the subject is much more complex than many may realize. The crisis is an intersection of property rights, business practices, economics, government regulation, and related topics. One very short segment of the film mentions corn as a cash crop being grown in the area in response to the ethanol mandate for fuel. Corn uses much water and while it doesn’t make much sense to grow it in a semi-arid region, farming is a business and if there is money to be made…

The sound and visual qualities of this production are excellent with no flaws found by this reviewer. Public libraries in the plains states will be interested as well as college collections in agriculture, business, agribusiness, environmental studies, and sociology