Interview: Filmmaker Jacob Morrison talks about documentary RIVER'S END

Jesus Figueroa

Written by Jesus Figueroa

Filmmaker Jacob Morrison directs documentary film “River’s End,” out now on Video On Demand in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The documentary shows politics in California that are an example of what make the global water crisis the complex system it has and continues to be.

Here’s what Morrison had to say when @ThisFunktional spoke about the topics “River’s End” brought up:

@ThisFunktiobal: More and more organizations that help advocate for water equity have popped up and there are many ways these people are trying to help, why did you decide to make RIVER’S END to highlight the way the agriculture of California affects the water system of California?

Morrison: 80% of the water that people use in California is used by agriculture, and 20% is used by cities. At the same time, agriculture makes up only 2% of the state's GDP. This 80/20 split statistic mirrors water usage around the world. While Los Angeles' population has grown over the past several decades, the city's water use has remained flat due to better water use efficiency. In order to solve our water crisis, we will have to continue this work, and expand that work across cities in California. But more importantly, we will have to look hard at agriculture. In River's End, I focus quite a bit on almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, which collectively use more water than all of the cities in California combined. These crops are predominantly exported, and they often benefit a select few corporations and individuals which have historically not given back to Central Valley communities, which are among the poorest in the nation. 

@ThisFunktional: California looks to other water systems that are successful in their areas to readjust the system, through the process of making RIVER’S END, how difficult is it to cause actual change due to the politics of it all?

Morrison: There is not enough political will to make significant positive change with regards to water issues in California. This is because most people do not know where their water comes from, and they simply do not care enough. This leaves only the agricultural lobby and the environmental working group as the loud voices in the room, and unfortunately, the latter is much more effective. We will not see actual change until more people learn where their water comes from, and get at least somewhat engaged. You can learn where your water comes from at

@ThisFunktional: What did you learn about the water system in California while making RIVER’S END?

Morrison: I learned the most from the 70+ people I interviewed. I also read a number of great books, articles, and papers throughout the process. The longer I worked on the film, the more I learned!

@ThisFunktional: Educating the general public is key to change, but the water system in California is complex due to both the complexity of how the water in California gets here and the politics behind how it is handled, what do you hope people take away from RIVER’S END?

I hope that people recognize that these are global issues, and what is happening in California is mirrored across the world. I would love for people to recognize that urban water conservation will not be enough to solve our problems, and that these issues will only exacerbate until more people learn where their water comes from, and who else is using it.

Now Available on Video On Demand in the US, Canada and UK

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