In an age of increasing energy needs, what would cause Arizona's largest electric company to voluntarily remove one of its hydroelectric facilities? The answer is an intricate tapestry of many threads, whose story will be revealed at the World Premiere of the documentary, "A River Reborn: The Restoration of Fossil Creek," on Jan. 14 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix.
This documentary was produced for Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the Museum of Northern Arizona by five-time Emmy award-winning producer, Paul Bockhorst, and narrated by actor Ted Danson.
After 100 years of water diversion, a host of partners from environmental advocacy groups, Arizona Public Service, the Yavapai-Apache Nation, resource agency biologists and NAU scientists gathered to celebrate the return of full flow to Fossil Creek.
Despite tension and conflicting interests, APS and dam-removal advocates reached an agreement without court involvement.
In explaining his decision to support decommissioning of the Fossil Creek hydroelectric facility William Post, chairman of APS, said, "As we looked at the opportunity to give the residents of the state of Arizona a perennial stream in the desert ... there is no option to that. We can find other ways to generate electricity. We cannot find other perennial streams in the desert."
The public will have the chance to speak to the people involved in this historic decision and view the film for the first time in its entirety on Jan. 14. Screenings are at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. with a social hour from 6 to 7 p.m. Tickets are available through the Orpheum Box Office. Call (602) 262-7272. Tickets are $10 for general admission and free to partnering organizations, including APS employees, NAU Alumni, and members of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, The Center for Biological Diversity, American Rivers, the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, Arizona Riparian Council, Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Northern Arizona Chapter of the Audubon Society, The Yavapai-Apache Nation, Audubon Arizona, Friends of Arizona Rivers and members of KAET Channel Eight.
Fossil Creek stands out as one of the last free-flowing, year-round streams in Arizona. The restoration of this watershed has drawn wide attention across the United States and is emblematic of a far-reaching change in the public attitude toward rivers and dams.
"Today, people in the Southwest and throughout the country are reassessing the use of precious water resources," said Dr. Stefan Sommer, executive producer of "A River Reborn." "They are seeking to balance the fulfillment of human needs with protection of the natural systems.
"Fossil Creek is a focal point for this reassessment."