The Story of The Green Desert
America’s harshest desert is home to the nation’s breadbasket. Farmers in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys depend on the Colorado River system to supply the country with produce during the winter months. Yet it’s a system on the brink of collapse. Water is the lifeblood, and the reservoirs that provide it are in a countdown to dead-pool.
The All-American Canal delivers Colorado River water from the Hoover Dam. Despite record snowfall during the winter of 2022/2023, its storage reservoirs have dwindled to historic lows. A 20-year drought compacted by the effects of climate change has brought Lake Mead and Lake Powell nearly to deadpool, the point at which no water can flow through Hoover Dam. If reached, the result would be total system failure, and agriculture in the desert valleys of Southern California would cease to exist. Scarcity divides the populace as states battle for their fair share of Colorado River water. In the face of dire shortages and unprecedented cutbacks, can this agricultural linchpin find a way to survive?
The Green Desert presents a dazzling kaleidoscope of vineyards, date ranches, and bell pepper farms in the Coachella Valley near the Salton Sea. The much larger Imperial Valley harvests leafy greens by the truckload, delivering over 1 billion servings a year. The alfalfa it grows is the bedrock of the food supply chain, making dairy and meat production possible. A total of 90% of the winter vegetables consumed in the US are produced in these two regions. Without them, the nation’s food security would vanish. Both of these regions rely on imported Colorado River water, a resource dwindling by the year. The need for conservation has never been greater, but will desperate measures be enough? The era of limits has been reached. We are at a crossroads. The future of the American West will be shaped by the choices we make.
The Making of The Green Desert
Colorado River footage between Blythe and Lake Havasu was filmed in late summer of 2021. Principal photography of “The Green Desert” began in May 2022 in the Coachella Valley and was completed in April 2023 in Imperial Valley. Only a handful of licensed stock shots are in the film…99% of contemporary footage was filmed exclusively for this project and took more than 50 shoot days to acquire. Location work in the Coachella Valley took us from Palm Springs to Mecca, Thermal, Coachella and the North shore of the Salton Sea. Imperial Valley locations included Holtville, Imperial and El Centro and the South side of the Salton Sea. Major location work was accomplished around Lake Mead (Nevada) and Lake Powell (Arizona) and Lake Las Vegas . One major interview was filmed in Reno (Nevada). Post-production started in January 2023 and was completed in July 2023.