We’ve been working to line up these water interviews for months, and it’s a good thing. Suddenly water scarcity is everywhere in the news. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at historically low levels. The Colorado River was listed as our nation’s most endangered watershed. The original intake pipe to deliver water to Las Vegas was suddenly exposed by lower water levels, as were human remains from past murders that were submerged for decades until lake levels receded.
Several of my conversations were immediately proceeded or followed by other media outlets. National and international crews from the New York Times, BBC and Mother Jones were in the neighborhood. One of my contacts went radio silent for a bit and I started to worry, but then I saw him quoted in an article for CNN and I realized we were doing our work in the midst of a media frenzy.
Given the timing, it was amazing we were able to get some of the access we did and I’m excited to share more of the stories in the coming weeks. As always, some of what we had planned fell through and other welcome surprises presented themselves.
Part of this journey is the ability to explore, to allow curiosity to lead us and to say yes when opportunities present themselves. Eric Balken in Salt Lake City suggested we talk with Lisa Rutherford in St. George, and so we did. John Weisheit encouraged us to visit Hite Overlook at the upstream end of Lake Powell and so we did.
We spent time at the two largest reservoirs in the nation. At Hoover Dam. In Las Vegas. We talked to activists and indigenous leaders, researchers and water district supervisors, river runners and marina owners. As always, no single person holds all the answers, but you start weaving them together and you start to understand the enormity of the issues. The complexity of the challenges. And the creativity of the people who are working to find solutions.
Standing beside a critical reservoir that is 170 feet below full pool is sobering. Hearing stories of the seven states that make up the Colorado River Basin cooperating and making hard choices for the common good is encouraging.
We are headed back toward Minnesota where we will have a little more time for editing, so we will keep sharing these stories on social media, on our website and through our podcast. I hope you’ll follow along. Listen to the stories. Consider the discussion questions at the end of each website interview.
The most recent conversation we shared with John Weisheit is worth a listen. I resonated with his concerned assessment of the situation, balanced with the belief that we must and can do better.
John said, “The reality is, this is gonna crash. The train is going over the cliff, but I have to have hope. That’s what keeps me going, because I believe the human character does have resilience and does have sustainability. It’s kind of built into us. We just need to revive it. We need to wake it up.”