Keeping an eye on one of our most precious resources will be the topic of a documentary film and panel discussion Friday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Midwest Theater in Scottsbluff.
The documentary “Thirsty Land,” will highlight drought and water management in the great American west. It was produced and directed by Conrad Weaver, who got the idea for the documentary, when he was making another documentary on the wheat harvest in the Midwest.
“The number one issue I heard that surfaced over and over again was the issue of drought and water and that spurred me to make this film about the drought,” Weaver said.
The story about extreme drought, agriculture, and the water crisis in the Western United States, looks at how these challenges impact farmers, communities, and the environment. The drought on this region has local, national, and global impacts not only for the present, but also for future generations.
He said the story begins in the Midwest, but continues onto the West Coast and down through Texas, where drought is a big concern.
“Those of us that live on the East Coast, who have plenty of rain, we don’t ever think of these issues (drought) and all of us need to think of these things,” Weaver said.
A panel discussion will follow the film. Moderator will be Jeff Bradshaw, extension entomologist at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Panelists include John Berge, NPNRD general manager; Pete Lapaseotes, NPNRD board member and irrigator, cattle feeder, and agribusiness owner; Owen Palm, president and CEO of 21stCentury Holdings; and Dennis Strauch, general manager of Pathfinder Irrigation District.
Berge heard about the film at the Global Water for Food Conference in Lincoln.
“It’s a good primer on how water management decisions happen in the American West particularly as it relates to drought and how we might be addressing many more of those issues in the years to come,” he said.
Even though, Nebraska and other Midwest states have groundwater to pull from in aquifers, Berge warns against thinking the aquifers will save us from future or devastating droughts.
“The fact of the matter is none of this (water) is an infinite resource,” he said. “We need to better manage that resource if we are going to have long-term sustainability both in agriculture and for consumption and everything else.”
The filmmaker will be on hand to provide an introduction.
The film is free to the public and runs 70 minutes, followed by the panel discussion. The event is sponsored by the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center, the North Platte Natural Resources District (NPNRD), and the Nebraska Conservation Education Fund.
Thirsty Land is being produced by ConjoStudios LLC in partnership with the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. It is also supported by a number of individuals, organizations, and companies. Other sponsors listed at the film website include Teeter Irrigation Inc.; American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers; American Society of Agronomy; the Irrigation Association; Valley Irrigation; and the Family Farm Alliance; AgChat Foundation; and Archai Media.