Gonna be a lot of irate citizens when they find out that they’re paying for water they’re not gonna get. — Jack Nicholson as J.J. “Jake” Gittes in Chinatown
In 1994, a handful of California state officials met in secret with representatives from big agriculture to transform wide swaths of formerly arid land into some of the country's most fertile megafarms. Two decades later, amidst an historic drought, the Monterey Amendments have all but depleted the state's river waters, leaving homeowners with dry wells and agribusiness billionaires with skyrocketing profits.
Water & Power: A California Heist, a new National Geographic documentary from Emmy Award-winning director Marina Zenovich, examines the little-known events in California's notorious history of water manipulation and the far-reaching implications for the thousands of people currently lacking access to safe drinking water. Playing like a real-life, modern-day Chinatown, Roman Polanski's 1974 film noir, the film lifts the lid on the chilling effects California's water crisis has on all of us when a public resource is privatized.
Following the Sundance Film Festival premiere, New America NYC presented a screening of Water & Power: A California Heist at Tumblr, followed by a discussion with the film's producer, lead subject, and environmental experts on how everyday citizens are facing down the water crisis to better preserve one of our country's most precious resources.
PARTICIPANTSJuliette Eisner @julietteeisner
Producer, Water & Power: A California Heist
Adam Keats @AdamFKeats
Senior Attorney, Center for Food Safety
Lead subject, Water & Power: A California Heist
Upmanu Lall @columbiawater
Director, Columbia Water Center, and Alan & Carol Silberstein Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University
Justin Worland @JustinWorland
Energy and environment reporter, TIME Magazine