A desert landscape; abandoned crumbling hotels; dry swimming pools; dead palm trees; a salty lake with white salt-encrusted beaches and dead fish. Welcome to the Salton Sea, an apocalyptic place in the forgotten southeast corner of California.
The Colorado River was the meaning of life for the Cocopa, a native tribe that lives in the border area of Arizona and North-Mexico. ‘When the river disappeared, so did our lives and culture’, says village chief Inocencia Gonzalez.
For more than ten years the American West has suffered from an unprecedented drought. With an exponential population growth and the temperatures on the rise due to climate change, water levels in the reservoirs of the Colorado River are going down at an alarming rate. Politicians and water managers fear water shortages in the near future; conflicts seem unavoidable. Patricia Mulroy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority: ‘I am worried.’
Meet Juan Patiño Suárez, sitting in his big chair in his garden, with his little dog. Don Juan, as we nicknamed him, is 74 years old and at the age of twelve, he came to Colonia Miguel Alemán, an agricultural community near San Luis Río Colorado in the northwest of Mexico. Most of his life, he worked on the land. ‘Back in the days, there was no bridge over the Colorado River’, he tells us. ‘We had to take little boats to get to the other bank.’