‘Last Call at the Oasis’: A Documentary About Our Global Water Crisis

“There’s no silver bullet, we need more like silver buckshot to take care of this problem.” -Jessica Yu, Director of Last Call at the Oasis

According to Last Call at the Oasis, based on our current rate of water usage, we have a window of 60-100 years left for readily available, clean drinking water. Produced by Participant Media, the company responsible for An Inconvenient TruthFood, Inc. and Waiting For “Superman,” Last Call At The Oasis presents a powerful argument for why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing us this century much to the disbelief of many.

“If I were king of the world, I would turn off the tap for 5 minutes a week just to show people what it would be like to not have water,” says director Jessica Yu. “We need to act as though the worst case scenario is here and offer a lot of ways for people to participate.”

Yu says her own tipping point for wanting to create a film like this one was that the more she researched the problem of water scarcity as well as quality, her views on the resource went from being completely abstract to a more focused and harsh take on the reality. “The question now is, how do we get people to think rationally and make them feel different about the choices they’re making?” says Yu.

Jessica Wu, Last Call at the Oasis Director

“A lot of it is denial. Denial applies to most people. It’s not on our radar that water problems can actually happen. What we really need to see is not just one place but the whole planet and how we need to work together. We’re not any different from those places we see having water problems now, they’re just in a different place than us,” says Yu.

Throughout the movie we see angry locals (who have a right to be angry), graphic Superfund sites and enough environmental catastrophes to make even the toughest stomach churn, but Last Call at the Oasis is also balanced with a hefty dose of scientific evidence. Yu says there is a lot of skepticism about losing access to water and the scientists featured in the film put themselves out on a limb being part of it.

“Most scientists are trying to publish in academic journals but the scientists in this film are really speaking out and taking a chance at getting their message out. They don’t get a reward for this,” she adds.

Illuminating the vital role water plays in our lives, exposing the defects in the current system and depicting communities already struggling with its ill-effects, the film features activist Erin Brockovich and such distinguished experts as scientist Peter Gleick, best-selling author Alex Prud’homme, Jay Famiglietti, The director of the Center for Hydro­logic Modeling at the University of California, Irvine and author/professor, Robert Glennon.

In 2005, Las Vegas consumed around 190 gallons of water per person per day, according to the Western Resource Advocates group

Environmental activist, author and television celebrity Erin Brockovich is featured in Last Call at the Oasis as the environmental activist she has been for over two decades. Going back to Hinkley – the same town she once got the largest toxic injury settlement in U.S. history for ($333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents) –  Brockovich tells people at a town meeting that “Superman aint coming” to help them. As the camera grazes the crowd, one can’t help feeling uncomfortable by the people staring at her straight-faced and disbelieving that hexavalent chromium is now in their water.

“It’s this complacency that concerns me. We have to look at why we think that an agency or a group can always fix things for us. I think when it came to Hinkley, it was a real shock. They really thought that Superman was going to come and save them,” Brockovich tells EcoSalon, adding that this film wasn’t created to create more skeptics.

Erin Brockovich

“We are on the cusp of greater and bigger things to come: the way we value land and health…we need to push back at a local level which means going to local meetings and making an impact, find ways to solve some of the issues and work with the companies. It’s not a separate thing – institutions and towns need to work together,” Brockovich says.

She also states that the issue of water protection and quality is not a Republican/Democrat issue, insisting that this is America’s issue and we need to all be on the same page to progress.

“I had this interesting moment a few weeks ago where this 21 year old girl came up to me who had just seen the movie Erin Brockovich. She said the movie inspired her and that she was ‘so empowered to want to do this now after seeing your movie!’ I reminded her that the movie came out 12 years ago, but then I realized at that moment that there’s a whole new generation of activists coming. This is a pivotal moment for me. For all of us,” Brockovich says.

Can a movie like Last Call at the Oasis do anything to stir concern in us? Scott Horsley, President of Horsley Witten Group, a company working with water remediation issues nationwide, recently viewed the film.

“Some communities are better than others. Here in the water rich Northeast U.S., there is plenty of water but the contamination and threat of storm water contamination still remain the leading cause of pollution. It will be difficult and expensive for communities to correct that problem but a film like this can start the conversation for sure.”

While each featured person in Last Call at the Oasis has their own line on how that connection will be, one thing holds true: we’ve reached a point where water needs protecting and it might even have more worth than oil.

“It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get rid of this false sense of security,” says Brockovich. “Regardless of all the apathy, this problem is now in all our backyards.”

Go here to see where Last Call at the Oasis is screening starting today.

Until you can see it, watch the trailer here:


Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.