When I spoke with Jeffrey Friedman by phone on June 20, 2016, the first thing I wanted him to talk about was why, even after all the mainstream reporting on the subject, there doesn’t seem to be the sort of public awareness that an imminent threat of running out of water should engender. His Discovery Channel documentary, KILLING THE COLORADO, co-produced with Jeffrey Friedman, is based on Pro Publica report by Abrahm Lustgarten about what has happened to that river because of the demands of both agriculture and cities on it. Told with a clear-eyed look at the needs of both, and the realities of the limits of water as a resource, the film delves into the policies that brought about the current disputes, and the way government does and doesn’t help ameliorate the situation.
We went on to talk about what a documentary can do that a report, no matter how meticulous can’t, choosing the right directors for each of the three segments, and after studying the report and making this film, what discourages him and what gives him hope. KILLING THE COLORADO airs on Discovery on August 4, and will be available on-demand starting on August 5.
Based on Abrahm Lustgarten’s Pro Public report, the Discovery Channel documentary explores the roots of water right’s disputes in the American west, the effects of the drought in exacerbating them, and water as a new trading commodity on Wall Street.