Friday, May 01, 2009
Desperate Water is a social documentary project which is to use my skills as a photojournalist, journalist and digital story-teller to bring the issues of water into a new light. Water is becoming a hot topic. Most people never think twice about it. It flows from the tap and that is that. Only when it stops may it command attention. The public understanding of our most precious resource in life and a basic human right in society is out of mind, taken for granted. Here it will no longer be out of sight.
Here is where I officially begin, a kick off if you will. To start in earnest a photographic documentary project I have wanted to seriously work on for many years. Now is the time. Now it begins.
A side note on the ethics of a documentary photographer. I have been covering news and events for the main stream media for decades. To some, that means I can not be objective by default. To others there is opportunity to critizize a journalist for being 'too close' to the subject matter. I contend it is utterly impossible to be un-bias in any form because we are human. We care. We get involved. I would not attempt to cover an issue I cared nothing about. The story and images would suffer in quality due to a lack of passion. Great documentary photographers of history and in our time have been accused of getting to close to their subjects. Photographers like Hansel Meith, Sebastiao Selgado and Matt Herron. There is a fine line between a documentarian with passion and a propagandist. A fine line to walk.
About 400 people walked the streets of L.A. for the symbolic journey of three miles that many in the world have to walk for fresh water each day. Clean and available water is something many of us in the U.S. take for granted but that is changing.
With pollution, drought and population issues arising more often, the future of water in the Southwest region of the U.S. and our neighbor Mexico is in question. Like air, water is seen by many as a basic human right. The cost of infrastructure and who controls its delivery is seen to be threatened by corporations who seek a profit from those who can’t afford to pay and who need it like everyone else. The rising cost of water will hit those who have the least like many other things. The cost of water will also affect the cost of food produced in California’s San Joaquin Valley (Central Valley). The lack of water will also cost jobs.
El Mirage Dry Lake Bed is a recreation area run by the Bureau of Land Management in the High Desert area of the Mojave Desert. Many off-roaders and the like enjoy the vast three-mile smooth surface of the lake bed to go fast. These landsailors scoot across the moon scape with a fine dust rising in their 40mph wake only mere yards from thousands of cows. Several dairies boarder the rec area know for its lack of water. On the surface anyway.
Taking a look around, ultalite pilot Max Colman of Lancaster flies over the California Aqueduct in the High Desert region of Llano in the Mojave Desert. This view gives some perspective to water resources in the arid landscape.
Rick Harris fishes in the California Aqueduct in the High Desert region of the Mojave Desert. Eric Reed/Photographer
The world is becoming an increasingly thirsty place. People expect clean water to flow from the tap and do not realize the social, political, environmental and technological problems that loom down that pipe.
Desperate Water is a photographic documentary project exploring the aspects of water and its future in California.
California has more than 37 million people most of which live in the southern third of the state. The water that provides the resources for drinking, business, agri-business and recreation come from two main sources: The Sacramento Delta and the Colorado River. These regions are under increasing pressure and threat from dwindling supplies, tainted quality and increasing demands. The disparity of water uses and users are becoming more prevalent. The politics of water, where it is acquired and who gets how much is slowly creeping into the public consciousness as the topics of environment and climate change unfold. Those who can afford it will feel little difference in their daily lives but pollution can and will affect the health of every one, especially those with out adequate health care or clean water supplies.
There are many public programs to help the public understand the importance of conservation but there are very few using the power of photography to connect and educate that same public to understand the people who are most effected. People who have less means in the state are often those who are adversely impacted from water quantity and quality. California’s low-income workers and families are loosing jobs on farms from decreased water allotments from the state’s resources and often can not afford the rising costs of clean water for them selves. These people are the ones lacking a voice. Drowned in today’s mass-media market, lost in the river of world affairs and the public’s divided attentions, these people need that voice and some one to help tell their story.
I have wanted to work on this issue for many years, watching and waiting, but have lacked the time and resources to seriously tell this story. Out of frustration and a driving force to move forward I have attempted in earnest to begin researching and photographing aspects of our Desperate Water.
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