Fresh water. Imagine a day without it. We use it to grow food, transport goods, generate power, support industry, and provide sanitation. Yet nearly half of U.S. streams, rivers and lakes are so polluted today that they are unsafe for fishing, swimming, aquatic life, and drinking water. In 1972, the Clean Water Act was enacted into law to provide basic human rights to clean water infrastructure. It accomplished significant milestones – no longer do we see raw sewage and toxic industrial waste openly pouring into our rivers. At least, not
everywhere. From coal sludge and toxic chemicals to open waste water, polluted water disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities. These laws are only as good as the EPA and state and local governments enforce them. And they are fifty years old. They do not address “forever” chemicals, micro-plastic pollution, and run-off from agribusiness pesticides, fertilizers, and feedlots. For the first time, many rivers and lakes are experiencing slimy green toxic algal blooms and major die-offs of marine life. . .food that sustains people and livelihoods. All these factors have a critical impact on our drinking water and the health of our watersheds. The climate crisis is rapidly making the situation worse.
Upstream, Downriver is a documentary film about community activists on the front lines fighting for water justice and equity. Their powerful stories are interwoven with historical context about the successes and failures of the Clean Water Act. The Act’s landmark regulations significantly reduced water pollution in America but did not serve many disadvantaged communities. Today, 2.2 million people in the U.S. still live without sewage infrastructure. From Lowndes County,Alabama to the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho, this documentary takes viewers on a journey of environmental justice and the battle for clean water for everyone.