On March 10, the Environmental Change and Security Project and the DC Environmental Film Festival website co-hosted the presentation of "Water for the Fields" and "Water for the Cities", the first two episodes of the series Thirsty Planet. The series, which includes commentary by Klaus Toepfer of the United Nations Environment Program, Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, and Vandana Shiva, the author of Water Wars, examines the world's water crisis and its effect on different users: agriculture, urban residents, neighboring communities, and businesses.

Of all human activities, agriculture consumes and wastes the most water. Deforesting land for farming reduces the availability of water by promoting desertification and erosion. In "Water for the Fields," communities from California to India explore different ways to conserve water and change land-use practices. Combining technology and traditional knowledge, some farmers are using water-efficient crops, replacing monocultures with diverse cropping methods, building windmills, and creating water reservoirs. These efforts are fighting soil erosion and reclaiming arable soil in an urgent quest to get "more crop per drop."

"Water for the Cities" examines the problems large cities face in trying to provide clean water and adequate waste disposal for more than 10 million people. For many cities, the ever-increasing use of water by their growing populations is a financial and logistic burden. The city of Lagos, Nigeria, for example, lacks even a single water treatment plant, so residents resort to "water tourism" and visit neighboring districts for water. Jakarta's pipeline supplies only one-third of its daily need, and none of this water is fit to drink. In Mexico City, almost 200 pipes are broken each day due to extreme water pressure resulting from increasing demand. Las Vegas, whose suburbanites consume 70 percent of the city's water, has improved its enforcement of water conservation to protect its limited supplies. These challenges directly affect not only the health and livelihoods of cities' growing urban populations, but also the health and water supply for the rest of the planet.

Find more information about the DC Environmental Film Festival at www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org

Drafted by Zachariah Zanek.