Drought documentary to be screened

Cal Lutheran crewâs film part of Arbor/Earth Month

Kristiann Jones and Karie Portillo Guerra film “Turf Wars."

Photo: David Grannis

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – April 10, 2018) A documentary on California’s historic drought produced by a California Lutheran University professor and his students will be screened on April 18 as part of Thousand Oaks’ Arbor/Earth Month celebration.

“Turf Wars: SoCal Water Conservation” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at the Grant R. Brimhall Library. A Q&A with “Turf Wars” producer David Grannis, Calleguas Municipal Water District manager of resources Eric Bergh and City of Thousand Oaks senior environmental analyst John Brooks will follow.

Grannis, an assistant professor of communication who teaches television and film production, originally intended to focus the film narrowly on Ventura County’s effort to replace lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.

“Unfortunately, once water is involved there are no small topics,” said Grannis, of Thousand Oaks.

With funding from university research grants, Grannis and communication majors Karie Portillo Guerra of Ventura and Kristiann Jones of Seattle ended up traveling throughout the state to document the effects of the 2011-17 drought and to examine the cost and sources of water and the relationship between agricultural and residential uses. They went from the orchards and livestock farms of California State University, Fresno, to an idled sod farm in Oxnard where the manager discussed having to lay off workers he’d known for 20 years.

The team was shocked at the devastation in Central Valley towns that had pumped their groundwater dry. Their visit to Stratford in Kings County was particularly impactful. 

“I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it was,” said Portillo Guerra, who double-majored in marketing communication. “We saw people moving out, loading up trailers with their things, because they didn’t have any water and there’s nothing for them there anymore. And these are people who grew up there, whose families had farms there.”

At times, getting people to talk about the controversial subject was a challenge. All 23 almond growers that the team called refused interviews, and an almond industry group sent a cease-and-desist letter.

The students both graduated in 2017. Jones is now a production assistant at NBCUniversal Media, and Portillo Guerra is a field representative for Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks.

Admission is free. The library is located at 1401 E. Janss Road. For more information, contact Grannis at grannis@callutheran.edu or 805-493-3366.