Robert Redford's newest film isn't meant for blockbuster audiences, it's meant for those who care deeply about wild lands and the communities that must nurture them.
"Watershed" discusses contemporary water ethics for the rapidly developing West, where water is the most valuable resource. The Colorado River is by far the West's main supplier, so the documentary focuses on the story of this special waterway.
In the film, the perspectives of a fly-fishing guide in Rocky Mountain National Park, a Los Angeles bike messenger, a Navajo Council Member and others invested in conserving the Colorado River illustrate the many problems the river is facing. A restoration worker, for example, explains how the once-prospering Colorado Delta is now a barren desert - a looming indicator of the river already being unable to meet water demands.
Estimates suggest it would only take a one to five percent reduction in water use to alleviate this crisis, a goal that the film claims is attainable, but only with a change in public awareness. So "Watershed" was created to mobilize grassroots efforts in Western states, where there are many screenings throughout this Spring.
Just as the Navajo Council Member recognizes that “water is life," the fly-fishing guide echoes that “whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting” - both appreciate that water is a precious resource. "Watershed" suggests many have lost touch with a personal connection to water and that this must be restored before communities will take action to conserve it.
The Wilderness Society advocates for connection to wild lands and rivers and works to protect those that all Americans hold dear.
Photos: top - Colorado River at the Navajo State Bridge in Arizona; above left - Colorado River winds through Glenwood Springs, Colorado