Water isn’t just something that sweeps in from the sky and swelling ocean, causing massive destruction in our port cities, it turns out. More than three decades after the landmark Clean Water Act, two iconic American waterways — the great coastal estuaries of Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay — are both in perilous condition. With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development, many scientists fear contamination to drinking water for millions of people, and the food chain in general.
This PBS Frontline documentary, running approximately two hours, examines the rising hazards to human health and the surrounding ecosystem, and why it’s so hard to keep our modern water clean. Director Rick Young knits together a compelling work, interweaving interviews, archival footage and newly collected comparative images. At the core of the movie’s success, though, is the fact that Young and co-writer Hedrick Smith do a good job of streamlining information in a way that imparts facts without losing viewers in a sleeve-tugging swirl of exclamatory, quantitative analysis. While addressing the growing list of endangered species also threatened by the rate and reach of man’s development and action, the film doesn’t come across as advocating for animals over or more than man; it presents a persuasive case for shared fate, which helps Poisoned Waters strike a chord across any mere political divide, at least with most reasonable minds.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Poisoned Waters is presented in 16×9 widescreen, with an English language stereo audio track that more than adequately handles the meager, talking-head aural demands of the program. Unfortunately, there aren’t the sort of get-involved bonus features that mark many other threatened-climate documentaries, like An Inconvenient Truth. Still, this far and away trumps most of the educational/scholastic viewing of my day; ergo, to purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B (Movie) C- (Disc)