Once the largest ecosystem in the Middle East, and the rich homeland of Sumerians for millennia, the Mesopotamian Marshes were destroyed systematically by Saddam Hussein so that they couldn’t shelter rebel forces. Drained and burned, the vital wetland habitat seemed lost forever. Iraqi exile Azzam Alwash, who spoke about his work at Mountainfilm in 2004 and 2008, never accepted that this magical place of his childhood could simply cease to exist. For the past 10 years, he has wheedled, cajoled, encouraged and coerced his countrymen to help restore the marshes sustainably.
Water wars have always been heated in the American southwest desert, where water is scarce and droughts are frequent, but the same quarrels were once unthinkable in lusher areas of the country. That’s changing as Georgia, Alabama and Florida are locked in a battle over water from their once-bountiful rivers. Two young brothers decide to paddle the three rivers in the Appalachiacola–Chattahoochee–Flint River Basin to tell the story of a system that still flows, though it’s threatened from all sides. Who Owns Water received a Mountainfilm Commitment Grant in 2013.