The documentary, “The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?” discusses the looming water crisis that poses detrimental effects on the inhabitants of Southwest America. The documentary highlights the connection between climatic change, diminishing water resources, and encroachment of natural habitats due to overdevelopment. Rapid population growth has placed considerable strain on America’s most important natural resource with dry persistence conditions creating an excessive demand for the supply of clean water. Despite the existence of evidence showing increasing scarcity of water, there have been little efforts directed towards reversing the trend unlike the case of natural resources such as oil whose scarcity has triggered the adoption of numerous conservation measures. The lack of concern by the public and government is disturbing because water scarcity is a time bomb whose consequences are more catastrophic than the drying of oil reserves.
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It is saddening that people are not taking initiatives to conserve water even though there are no alternatives for water, unlike fossil fuels. The documentary shows that the people facing the greatest risk of water scarcity are minority communities such as the Indian communities in Southwest (The American Southwest). However, water crises will become a global phenomenon due to the inference of the hydrological cycle, which will lead to interrupted snowmelts, rain, and drying of rivers. Diminishing water levels in major catchment areas such as the Colorado River will not only affect the adjacent communities but also hamper access to clean water by Americans across a wider region, including areas such as Los Angeles.
The Indian communities are already experiencing water rationing as evident by the fact that they can only access about 25 gallons of water compared to the 100 gallons used by an average American family. Scarcity of water has far-reaching effects, especially in matters of public and environmental hazards. Awareness regarding appropriate land planning and mitigation of the effects of climatic change emerge as key recommendations whose implementation will ensure the preservation of catchment areas such as Lake Powell, Lake Mead, and the Rio Grande without which the cities in the American Southwest will plunge into a disaster.
The documentary highlights that despite the harsh climate in the Southwest, there is the hope of addressing the water demands of the expanding population with the adoption of appropriate policies. The pragmatic shift towards water conservation should become a major initiative by the government, considering its authority to consolidate resource and spearhead the implementation of national water policy. Changing how authorities allocate water will promote the acceptance of campaigns on water conservation by the public. The status of surface water is an indicator of the condition of groundwater, which can help to predict the future of water availability and influence both the short-term and long-term interventions.
Coordination between departments involved in land planning and management of water catchment areas will greatly reduce encroachment and diversion of waterways, which increase the implications of dry conditions. The documentary provides the viewer with insights on the future of water crisis, considering that the conditions exhibited in the American Southwest are likely to develop in various parts of the world. The documentary provides a scope for preparedness and mitigation of chaos and disasters associated with water scarcity, which governments can rely upon to maintain and preserve the crucial natural resource.
The American Southwest. Dir. Jim Thebaut. Perf. Jane Seymour. Chronicles Group, 2008. DVD.