5 Remarkable Documentaries on Clean Water and Sanitation

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Among 17 goals, clean water and sanitation is the 6th sustainable development goal; targeted mainly to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all and to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.

Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of people, an alarming figure that is projected to rise as temperatures do. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will suffer recurring water shortages. When considered sanitation, still In 2020, 3.6 billion people lacked safely managed sanitation services (with adequately disposed or treated excreta) and 1.9billion lacked even basic sanitation.

Safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene. Therefore protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems is essential.

And so on, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of sanitation, hygiene and adequate access to clean water for preventing and containing diseases. Hand Hygiene Saves our lives.  According to the World Health Organization, handwashing is one of the most effective actions you can take to reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent infections, including the COVID-19 virus.

Therefore we need to talk about this and take action to protect the great resource, water. Here are 5 great documentaries that talk about clean water and sanitation.

Brave blue world(2020)


A brilliant and powerful documentary directed by Tim Neeves and narrated by Liam Neeson explores how new technologies and groundbreaking innovations can create a sustainable water future for the entire planet. The documentary includes interviews with a variety of water experts as well as high-profile advocates Matt Damon and Jaden Smith while featuring compelling stories and beautiful scenery. The film explores developments in areas such as water reuse, nutrient recovery, energy generation, decentralized treatment and the digitization of water.

The Brave Blue World documentary team guided by O’Callaghan, travelled from the International Space Station to modern cities throughout five continents to chronicle how our relationship with water is being re-imagined and to show novel ways to tackling water problems. What they discovered are wonderful: There is no shortage of water; rather, we are running out of locally available, renewable freshwater. It takes a stark look at how we got where we are today, then challenges and shatters some of the commonly held myths and assumptions about water while presenting revolutionary new ways in which we can create an entirely sustainable future for generations to come.

Screenings of the film are already taking place all over the world, supported by the Brave Blue World Foundation and has been awarded its excellent service for the world; Winner-Best Documentary Feature, New York International Film Awards 2021, Winner-Award of Excellence, IndieFest Film Awards etc.

There’s Something in the Water(2019)


A  Canadian documentary film, directed by Elliot Page and Ian Daniel; an examination of environmental racism and water pollution. The film explores the disproportionate effect of environmental damage on Black Canadian and First Nations communities in Nova Scotia.

The film begins by depicting conditions in the black community outside of  Shelburne, Nova Scotia where a correlation between contaminated well water and elevated rates of cancer went unaddressed. The film also explores Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia which were negatively impacted by water pollution such as Boat Harbour and Mi’kmaw tribal lands.

Based on Ingrid Waldron’s incendiary study, the film follows Page as she travels to rural areas of the province that are plagued by toxic fallout from industrial development. As did Waldron, the filmmakers discover that these catastrophes have been precisely placed, all in remote, low income – and very often Indigenous or Black – communities. As the filmmakers observe, our postal code determines our health. And this documentary emphasizes that poor people may not be able to have good sanitation as the government only began addressing this when other whiter, wealthier communities were affected.

This nice documentary has been nominated as the Best Canadian Feature Film at Toronto International Film Festival 2019.

The Devil We Know(2018)


An investigative documentary film by director Stephanie Soechtig regarding allegations of health hazards from perfluorooctanoic acid(PFOA) in the public water supply. PFOA, also known as C8, is the key ingredient in Teflon. PFOAs are commonly found in every household and products as diverse as non-stick cookware, stain-resistant furniture and carpets, wrinkle-free and water-repellant clothing, cosmetics, lubricants, paint, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, and many other everyday products.

Documentary Shows a discovery of a handful of West Virginia residents that DuPont; an American company formed by the merger of Dow Chemical and E.I.du Pont has been pumping its poisonous Teflon chemical into the air and public water supply of more than 70,000 people and then they filed one of the largest class-action lawsuits in the history of environmental law.

Further, it says as many as 110 million Americans may be drinking water tainted with PFAS chemicals and exposure to this class of chemicals has even become a global phenomenon, spreading to places like Italy, the Netherlands, and China. This will affects the sanitation of humans.

However, it said that this documentary acts as a key to solve this huge problem. Therefore this was also be awarded; Winner- Impact Award, Vancouver International Film Festival 2018, Winner- Call to Action Award, Boulder International Film Festival 2018.

Pumped dry: the global crisis of vanishing groundwater(2016)


A short documentary; a joint project of The Desert Sun and USA Today, directed by Steve Elfers which is based on freshwater & Oceans, Climate Change, Environmental Advocacy and Justice.

The film starts with footage of Niagara Falls and the observation that its flow is of the same order of magnitude as that of the stream of groundwater being abstracted from aquifers in America. As its title indicates, the film illustrates the global water crisis resulting from ubiquitous groundwater overexploitation, zooming in on the cases of India (Punjab and Maharashtra), Kansas, Peru, Morocco and California.

The film concludes with a series of alleged solutions: ‘Use water carefully and more efficiently’, ‘increase the recharge’, ‘use more drip irrigation,’ ‘change the crop mix’, ‘raise awareness of the public’, ‘price water at its economic value and not according to the cost of service’ etc while the final word recommends to “scrap the whole thing and start from the beginning, do it all over again and it will be completely different”.

The film does a good job of illustrating and investigating the consequences of an emerging crisis in several of the world’s hotspots of groundwater depletion. It tells stories of people who are being forced to confront questions of how to safeguard their aquifers for the future—and in some cases, how to cope as the water runs out.

This documentary has won the 2016 Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism.

In Our Water (1982)


This is not a recent documentary, but the message given by it takes effect for today also. In this Oscar-nominated documentary, a New Jersey family discovers water in their well is being poisoned by a landfill while local and state officials assure them their water is safe to drink. A five-year-old saga of bureaucratic neglect and court inaction reveals the Kaler’s drinking water could have been bottled as a paint remover. The landfill is later declared a Superfund site but as of 2018 has yet to be “cleaned up”.

As regulations protecting the water are again under attack, this documentary is both a cautionary tale and a map to activism. Educators, environmentalists, government bureaucrats, politicians, citizens and water drinkers everywhere can benefit from experiencing this exceptional movie.

This was nominated for Best Documentary, Features at the Academy Awards. Nominated for Best Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival. Winner of the Columbia DuPont Award for Journalistic Excellence.