Water – The Drop of Life

The story of water is told with the help of Global personalities Mikhail Gorbachev, Kofi Annan, The Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter, Shimon Peres, Queen Noor of Jordan, Ted Danson and Isabel Allende. Their combined insights are the guiding lines of the stories in each episode.

Each episode in this six part series covers an important, global theme concerning fresh water: the spirit of water, pollution, water and industry, water and agriculture, the price of water, and water and war.

To illustrate these themes film crews have filmed stories in over 30 countries, including: India, Jordan, Mexico, Australia, Gemini, The United States of America, Italy, Namibia, Indonesia, The Netherlands, South-Africa, Spain, Chili, Japan, England, Israel, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Egypt, China, Botswana, Cyprus, France, Ukraine.

Originally sponsored by Heineken and ITT, this series has been seen in over 50 countries, including in the US, on PBS. "Water - The Drop of Life" is an extraordinary television series about a subject that touches virtually everybody on the planet.

Episode 1 – Body and Soul

A Japanese tea ceremony, symbolizes "purity." In Bali, a priest performs a blessing with holy water. In Japan, Shinto priests use water in a ritual of purification and initiation. We also see the River Jordan, where Christian pilgrims are being baptized. Varanasi is a place where millions from all over India come for the ritual of endings and of beginnings: cremation.

In the second half of the episode, we learn how our need for daily water takes many forms. The series profiles the daily water use of a family in Valencia, Spain, Namibia and Phoenix, Arizona.

Episode 2 – Fuel For Farms and Factories

This installment of the series explores how water is managed and mismanaged in agriculture and industry.

Southwest Kansas farmers have been mining aquifer water to meet the demands of agri-business without considering the consequences of exceeding the recharge rate. In Kenya, where farmers are helped by a technique known as drip irrigation. In Mexico, irrigation with "aguas negras" -- waste water -- has long been the saving grace to meet the needs of the dwellers of this dry region.

Industries also face a critical dilemma -- how to balance increased production goals while sustaining the natural resources that power industrial output.This episode shows how a Japanese steel company is leading the industry in its water conservation policies. In Canada, we see the world's first zero-effluent pulp mill. In Europe, medieval Beer Purity Law -- the oldest food quality regulations known -- still govern much of modern brewing.

Episode 3 – The Perils of Pollution

What happens to the balance between the Earth and all living things when man intervenes in nature's environments dependent on water?

Our need to support ever-higher levels of consumption and population often involves taking more and more of nature's bounty. We look at how species survive in the Namibia Desert in South Africa and at Glen Canyon in the U.S. Where a large dam obstructs the once wild Colorado River and disrupts the health of the aquatic system. The series visits the canals of the Rhine River, explores the shrinking of freshwater wetlands in Holland, and then ends up in the Ecuadorian rainforest now suffering damage by oil production. Concerns about the health of both water-scarce and water-abundant environments are growing and reallocating fresh water to the environment has begun.

The second half of the episode explores the evermore ominous and highly charged issue of pollution and its continuing impact on the world's need for clean water. While safe drinking water was once readily available for many, in the last decades, the self-cleansing abilities of water streams cannot keep up with unprecedented population increases. Pollution has upset the delicate biological balance of the water system. Unless the water supply is treated, it may also be unfit for people to use for drinking, bathing, and growing and preparing food.

Episode 4 – A Price To Pay

In this episode, we explore water transportation and fees.  In Africa's Rift Valley, the walk of water is at the very core of life for the Masaai. The aqueducts of Rome proved to be one of the world's most notable water transportation systems. The ultra-modern Central Arizona Project Aqueduct brings Colorado River water to cities in America's Southwest. Spain's Tago-Segura project is diverting water to the fields in Murcia.

We explore the controversial issue of water pricing in diverse communities throughout the world -- who controls it, and who pays what, for water.The film highlights the price asked by traditional water bearers in a bustling enclave in the midst of India, then crosses over to Great Britain where wide-scale privatization of water takes place. At last we travel to Santiago, Chile, where an increase in the water price would be used to decontaminate the waters of the local rivers.

Episode 5 – Water, War and Peace

This episode looks at what happens when rivers are blocked and water crosses borders.  The diverting of the Syr Darya caused a dramatic shrinking of the Aral Sea, an ecological disaster affecting some 30 million people. The construction of the huge Three Gorges Dam will create a 600-kilometer-long reservoir with an incredible water storage capacity of 40 billion cubic meters.

Could the next wars be fought over water? Courts such as El Tribunal de las Aguas in Valencia, Spain present an effective way to handle water conflicts on a local scale. On an international scale, however, the issues are far more complex.

In the Middle East disputes over water are as old as they stony biblical times. The Ataturk Dam in Turkey holds back water from its downstream neighbor. Namibia wants water from the Okavango River in Botswana. In Israel, water disputes are central to the disputes with the Palestinians.

Episode 6 – The Endless Search

In this episode, we focus on the never-ending search for water.  From the hunter bushmen in the Kalahari Desert to the inhabitants of Mexico City this installment examines water scarcity problems. In Chile nets capture fog. In Petra in Jordan we see ancient water systems. In Australia, a cattle breeder gains knowledge from the Aborigines.

In Yemen, groundwater tables are sinking and this country might be the first to run dry. Cities like Los Angeles are facing some of the same challenges as Yemen. In Egypt an effort is under way to transform the desert into a fruitful oasis using a new technology called DriWater.  At the Johnson Space Flight Center in Texas, new technologies may one day help preserve water both in space and on Earth. Reverse osmosis is one promising method of reducing the cost of desalination. Farmers along the coasts of Europe and North America may one-day farm native sea vegetables.