Clean water shrinking in "Last Call at the Oasis"

Fri May 4, 2012 8:20pm EDT
 
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By Jordan Riefe

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If you thought only Third World countries have water crises, a new documentary asks you to think again. Increasingly, problems are rising to the surface in the United States.

Filmmaker Jessica Yu harnesses the celebrity power of actor Jack Black and environmental activist Erin Brockovich - immortalized by Julia Roberts in the 2000 movie about Brockovich's work - to give the looming U.S. water crisis a thorough wringing out in "Last Call at the Oasis".

"A third of U.S. counties face water shortage by the year 2050," Yu told Reuters. "It's not really a solvable problem but we can manage it so much better."

"Last Call at the Oasis" follows environmental activists as they try to hold accountable those who contaminate the Earth's most precious natural resource - clean water.

In Las Vegas, they find a desert city is straining limited resources as it grows exponentially. Rural mid-western states are home to industrial cattle farms where tons of manure is improperly disposed, contaminating streams and drinking water. In farming communities, local towns see a spike in cancer cases after chemicals are used in pesticides.

According to Yu's research, in just 60 years the aquifer in California's Central Valley could be depleted, leaving barren an area that provides one fifth of the nation's produce.

Brockovich, who won a 1996 multi-million dollar settlement against energy giant Pacific Gas and Electric for polluting the water supply of a California town, said that water pollution is causing health issues throughout the United States.

"There are 4000 individual communities on my map now, and I can barely keep up with the incoming data," she told Reuters.   Continued...