A new movie by the Robert Redford family seeks to change the Colorado River's story from "A River No More" to a river of hope.
The filmmakers wanted to sound a positive message about a river that has been a subject of fear - that a Western lifeline will someday run dry. Film producer Jamie Redford, whose father Robert is narrator, talked about the movie that will play once in Tucson next week as part of a seven-city Western tour. It was made by the Redford Center, a nonprofit social and environmental change organization.
Q. What is the Colorado's basic issue that you're trying to raise?
A. We are headed towards the point where demand is quickly outstripping supply. Unless we use it more wisely and more fairly, we will have a catastrophic outcome, a crisis over water rights. So let's raise the bar right now and deal with it in a thoughtful way.
Q. How are you trying to raise people's awareness?
A. One option is always to have a team of experts discuss the facts and statistics. We chose to find voices for people who live on the river, who are intimately involved with it, voices you can trust as people, who can speak to the issue.
Q. Such as?
A. There's a fly fisherman from Granby, Colo. Another is the mayor of Rifle, Colo., who got the town to develop the largest municipal solar array in the nation as an alternative to higher-water use energy solutions such as hydrofracking of natural gas and oil shale extraction in the region. A third is Edith Santiago, who works for the Sonoran Institute (based in Tucson). She has managed to take a dribble of agricultural runoff in Mexico and restore some critical wetland areas in the river delta with wastewater. She demonstrates how much you can do with just a little bit of extra water.
Q. Why are you hopeful?
A. First, there is so much waste in the system right now between the water we use for energy production and the water we use for agriculture, that very simple changes in how that water is used will lead to great savings. It goes all the way to the municipal level because water is so cheap.
Q. Won't raising water prices hurt the poor and middle class?
A. We're not necessarily suggesting raising the price of water is what needs to happen. Our point is that it seems like it might be an inevitability. Therefore, if we begin to have more awareness about our water usage and learn easy ways in which we can conserve, we'll be personally less impacted.
Q. What else makes you hopeful?
A. The possibility of getting water to the Colorado River Delta, which used to run wild but is now a desert. The Sonoran Institute and other groups are trying to raise $17 million to buy 50,000 acre-feet of water rights to have permanent water there. (They've already bought 4,000 acre feet, and there is an open water market in Mexicali, Baja California, where farms are buying and selling water.) A simple matter of money is preferable to us, rather than hoping politicians will change the way they do things.
Q. If we're heading toward a water crisis, shouldn't people get that water?
A. There are farmers who are willing to sell their water rights. It is going towards reinvigorating an ecosystem that will revive tourism and fishing industries that have long been wiped out by the lack of water and the desertification of a former 2 million acre wetland (the delta).
Q. Who paid for this movie and how much did it cost to make?
A. The film's $275,000 cost was financed primarily by the Edward John Noble Foundation.
If you go
"Watershed," a documentary about the Colorado River
• When: 7 p.m., Wednesday
• Where: The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway
• Admission: Free.
• After the film, director Mark Decena will join a panel of local and regional conservationists and other water experts.
Contact reporter Tony Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 806-7746.