In January 2014, 10-thousand gallons of a nasty chemical leaked from a rusted containment tank into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia. The "unregulated" chemical quickly overwhelmed the filtration system at West Virginia American Water. Three hundred thousand people were left without water for a considerable period. The documentary centers on the spill but examines it from the perspective that what occurred was complete "systemic failure." Safeguards assumed to be in place had been ignored, weakened, excused or were non-existent. No regulation, enforcement, prevention or alarm system worked the way citizens are led to believe they should. Interviewed are environmental experts, activists, journalists and some of the people who lost their only source of water and what little remained of their trust. West Virginia's legacy of catastrophe and crisis relates directly to the giant extractive industries that control the state and its government. The program links past disasters with the water crisis. It posits the idea that the most valuable natural resource in West Virginia is not coal or gas - it's water. This documentary was produced in the year following the crisis. It is the version presented January 9, 2015, at a well-attended event at the state capitol, marking the 1st anniversary of the water crisis.
Funding for the project came from The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston and The West Virginia Rivers Coalition. Unitarians Universalists from around the country contributed to a "clean water fund" administered by a committee from the Charleston congregation. Producers used a portion of the clean water fund for travel and some equipment upgrade. The human component; hours and talent, was all donated - we call the loose organization "Volunteer Video."
The producers encourage individuals, groups and organizations to utilize the documentary to generate discussion regarding the water issues that are described. Many of the political and industrial topics portrayed in the program are universal.
I'm positive the two contributing organizations would appreciate any financial help to continue spreading the message and fighting the fight: They are: West Virginia Rivers Coalition wvrivers.org/ and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston, WV. (Clean Water Fund) uucharlestonwv.org/