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Film Review - Last Call at the Oasis
by Jenny Mather

Director: Jessica Yu. USA

This documentary highlights a few drops in the bucket of water crises around the world. With an emphasis on current and present dangers in the United States, Jessica Yu streams together information from experts and ordinary folks that just might rock the boat enough for more people to take action now to ensure a clean water supply for our future.

With terrific cinematography and great music, Yu shows us Lake Mead where the receding water level behind the Hoover Dam could lead to interruption of electricity production in just four years. We see Las Vegas, with its man-made canals of Venice and fabulous fountains, all in the middle of desert terrain, and learn that the city is in a virtual state of water emergency. Farmers to the north are threatened by a new pipeline to bring more water to Las Vegas that could leave farms high and dry. Research shows that thirty-six states face water shortages within the next three years. Although many may think of water as air, less than 1% of the Earth’s surface is fresh water. The world water shortage is already of epic proportions with threats to fishing and agriculture. The livelihood of farmers in Australia was so severely hurt by drought that there was a suicide every four days. Los Angeles should look to Australia to see what’s coming. Is it just a dry cycle or climate change? Conservation is no longer enough to quench world thirst.

For expertise and commentary, Yu turns to Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, author of Unquenchable, Robert Glennon, hydrologist Jay Famigliette, Dr. Tyrone Hayes from the University of California at Berkeley and environmental activist Erin Brockovich. Are we using too much water for our grass or to fill baths and swimming pools? Are we suffering from the effects of antibiotics and other drugs washed into our drinking water from cattle raised in concentrated animal feeding operations? Why isn’t drinking water tested for prescription drugs? With $11 billion annually spent on bottled water is it even safe to drink? You could drown in the sheer number of issues raised in this documentary but there are a few lifelines and even some lighter moments. Solutions could include recycling sewage water. Various amusing names of recycled water are discussed with an advertising company leading to a potential commercial for bottled water from “Porcelain Springs, the most peaceful place on earth,” with Jack Black. Yes, Jack Black is funny. But perhaps this kind of potable water will end up as the last laugh.