THE SWEETWATER SEAS
When Samuel de Champlain arrived at Lake Huron in 1615, he knew he had encountered something astonishing. Before him was a vastness of water, an apparent ocean, yet the water was fresh—he called it La Mer Douce, "the sweetwater sea."
Champlain could not have known that his hand had dipped up less than one cup of six quadrillion gallons of fresh water contained in five immense lakes—more than a fifth of the drinkable surface water on earth. Nor could he have dreamed that such a vast storehouse of water would prove fragile, vulnerable to near-catastrophic harm by the industrialized colonists who would soon populate their shores.
THE SWEETWATER SEAS is a feature documentary that integrates science and fine-art videography to explore one of North America's wonders. The film examines the latest thinking about the environmental sustainability of the Great Lakes Watershed and seeks to engage viewers into making a difference. Although 42 million people live within the Watershed, most have never been around their own lake, much less all five. We will take them on a voyage of discovery to rival Champlain's.
The project will reveal the natural landscape and its geological history, the watershed's cityscapes, and its vast industrial and agricultural areas. Humans started living near these immense bodies of water tens of thousands of years ago, but it is only in the last few centuries that human activity has impacted the environment of the lakes. To engage viewers THE SWEETWATER SEAS will offer both images of great beauty in the natural world that surrounds the lakes as well as video of the tides of pollution and invasive species that threaten this magnificent resource. By using the voices of scientists, environmentalists, political leaders, engaged corporations and everyday people around the lakes, the story of these extraordinary bodies of water—their history, their importance and threats to their health—will be explored and explained.
North America's Great Lakes are the world's largest body of fresh water. So much water is contained in the system that it would cover the entire contiguous United States to a depth of nine feet. Yet this immensity of water is fragile. Agricultural runoff, industrial and urban pollution, and invasive species of plants and animals all pose or have posed serious threats to individual lakes and the entire ecosystem. However, as the cleanup of the south end of Lake Michigan attests—helped by activists and giant corporations such as US Steel and BP—even seemingly hopeless conditions can be reversed.
THE SWEETWATER SEAS is not just a beautiful documentary—it is also a call to action.