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What’s It Like to Live in a Town Without Water?

California’s San Joaquin Valley provides the United States with more than 25% of all its food. When this fertile valley experienced a half-decade of drought, many local wells dried up and left residents without running water. The small town of East Porterville was one of the communities most dramatically affected. For three years neighbors used rain and bottled water for fundamental needs like drinking, washing dishes, and flushing the toilet. In this excerpt from Water & Power: A California Heist, residents describe what a typical day looks like living without this precious amenity—one that is increasingly being siphoned off to support national agribusinesses.

Water & Power: A California Heist is a two-hour documentary from award-winning filmmakers Marina Zenovich and Alex Gibney. Watch the premiere on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at 9/8c on National Geographic. For a behind-the-scenes look at Water & Power: A California Heist, read this Q&A with Emmy-winning director Marina Zenovich.

The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the world and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic's belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. To submit a film for consideration, please email The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.