Cadillac Desert - 2. An American Nile (3 of 6)
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Uploaded on Apr 10, 2010
Water and the Transformation of Nature (1997)
An American four-part documentary series about water, money, politics, and the transformation of nature.
The film chronicles the growth of a large community in the western American desert. It brought abundance and the legacy of risk it has created in the United States and abroad.
The first three episodes are based on Marc Reisner's book, Cadillac Desert (1986), that delves into the history of water use and misuse in the American West. It explores the triumph and disaster, heroism and intrigue, and the rivalries and bedfellows that dominate this little-known chapter of American history.
The final episode, is drawn from Sandra Postel's book, Last Oasis, (1992) which examines the global impact of the technologies and policies that came out of America's manipulation of water, demonstrating how they have created the need for conservation methods that will protect Earth's water for the next century.
2. An American Nile
Is the Colorado River a preeminent symbol of economic folly and environmental disaster -- or the perfection of an ideal? Do its dams represent technological hubris gone mad -- or a lifeblood for millions of Americans living in the Southwest?
An American Nile, part two of the CADILLAC DESERT series, tells the story of how the Colorado became the most controlled, litigated, domesticated, regulated and over-allocated river in the history of the world. Rich with archival footage and interviews with the river's "shapers" and protectors, the broadcast chronicles how the Colorado became so dammed-up and diverted that by 1969 it no longer reached the sea except in the wettest of years.
Despite the warnings to Congress in 1888 by explorer John Wesley Powell that the lack of water was a serious obstacle to unbridled settlement of the West, America was determined to settle the Colorado's starkly arid domain. In the height of the Great Depression, the heroic construction of Hoover Dam -- an engineering achievement compared to the Pyramids or the Sphinx -- made the Colorado into the greatest single source of electricity in the world, inspiration for dam builders the world over, and proof that the fatal dryness of the Great American desert could be conquered.
On the heels of the Hoover dam came a rush of hydroelectric dams, flood control dams, irrigation dams in California, Arizona, Montana, Washington, Oregon -- all engineering dryness and free-flowing rivers out of existence. Some 55 dams were built on the Columbia River and its tributaries alone -- including the colossal Grand Coulee; by 1956, 90 percent of its salmon were gone and nearly every stretch of the Columbia was a reservoir.
The same year, work began on the Glen Canyon Dam -- designed to generate both hydropower for Phoenix and revenue to pay for still more dams -- that would submerge 186 miles of canyonlands, destroying natural wonderland. Despite the last-minute efforts of the Sierra Club to stop the dam, the reservoir, named Lake Powell, was christened 100 years to the day that Powell had passed through Glen Canyon.
When the Bureau of Reclamation turned next to building two dams in the Grand Canyon, the Sierra Club engaged in a bitter battle -- and finally swayed public opinion -- to block them. But saving Marble Canyon did not stop the flood of people drawn to new homes and new jobs in Arizona, leading to President Lyndon Johnson's authorization of the Central Arizona Project, the most expensive waterworks in Bureau history. Today, with double-digit growth in Phoenix, there's just not enough water to meet insatiable demand. Whereas the Hopi have lived in the desert for a thousand years on tiny amounts of water, Americans built swimming pools and huge irrigation farms in the desert sun -- with water from the Colorado. No river has been asked to do so much -- for so many -- with so little.
This recording comes from old vhs tapes, and the quality is messed up in places. But, it is nearly impossible to find copies of the original series anymore. Just a single copy of the first episode is for sale on amazon, and the guy selling it wants $1000!! Or you can watch it here for free :)
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