A Global Water Story


Water is crucial for life on Earth, and its distribution across the surface determines where people can live. The availability of water is an active concern of many citizens in the western United States, who have seen firsthand the impacts of drought in recent years. Mountain snowpack, which supplies much of the water in Colorado and states reliant on Colorado River water, is expected to decrease as the climate warms. In the past, we have built large infrastructure projects to move water to supply our cities and farms. Today we need to look to innovative technologies to help address the water challenges of the present and future.


This premier of the Worldviews Network was designed to plunge audiences into a national conversation about local and global water issues using the immersive technology of Denver’s Gates Planetarium. Typically the Planetarium is used to study space, but its capabilities were used to catalyze a discussion about interconnected Earth systems and environmental science.


This event originally took place at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Gates Planetarium (Denver, CO) on May 24, 2011. It was simulcast live to The Journey Museum in Rapid City, South Dakota; RENCI/NEMAC in Asheville, North Carolina; California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco; and Como Elementary School in St. Paul as a nationwide conversation about water with scientists and other experts. In the Gates Planetarium, geologist Bob Raynolds, PhD, and space scientist Ka Chun Yu, PhD, explained the planetary processes that affect water supplies around the world and in the American West.

Google Earth Tour


Explore A Global Water Story on your own in this interactive Google Earth tour. Learn about innovative strategies people are doing to conserve precious freshwater resources and how you can make a difference.

» Download the KMZ file (18MB, playable in Google Earth)


If you do not have Google Earth, download the free software.

Program Kit


Script & Storyboard

Installer Download

Training Video

Data Sources

Where we get our fresh water?

Fresh water accounts for only 2.5% of Earth’s water, yet it is vital for human civilization. What are our sources of fresh water? In the first of a two part series on fresh water, Christiana Z. Peppard breaks the numbers down and discusses who is using it and to what ends.

WWF: Virtual Water: Change the Way You Think About Everything

How much water does it take to make one latte? We can do more using less of our natural resources, right now.

Good: Water

For World Water Day 2008, we look at the planet’s water, how it’s being used, and the increasing strains on this vital resource. Drink up!

WWF: The Importance of Water

Of all the water on this blue planet of ours, only 3% of it is freshwater. And this precious, life-giving resource has seen a decline of 35% in the species that live within its realm since 1970. We must use water more wisely. We must make better use of the bounties and services that it provides.

NASA / USGS | LANDSAT: A Space Age Water Guide

Water specialists Rick Allen, Bill Kramber and Tony Morse have created an innovative satellite-based method that maps agricultural water consumption. The team uses Landsat thermal band data to measure the amount of water evaporating from the soil and transpiring from plants leaves. Evapotranspiring water absorbs energy, so farm fields consuming more water appear cooler in the thermal band. The Landsat observations provide an objective way for water managers to assess on a field-by-field basis how much water agricultural growers are using. Landsat is a joint program of NASA and the US Geological Survey.

Good: Drinking Water

Celebrate World Water Day!

Good Transparency: Water Conservation 

Thirsty? So is everyone else. We’re headed for a water shortage. Here’s how simple daily choices can reduce your water use. A GOOD Transparency video.


National Level Water Data

Colorado Regional Water Data

  • Savory Institute
    • The focus of the Savory Institute is to restore the vast grasslands of the world through the teaching and practice of Holistic Management and Holistic Decision Making.
  • Holistic Management
    • Holistic Management International is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the health of degraded private, public and communal grasslands worldwide. By managing land resources in partnership with nature, we can increase land productivity, optimize water resources, preserve food sources, create sustainable livelihoods, and remove Carbon Dioxide from our atmosphere.
  • Whole Measures
    • What organizations and communities measure often determines what they pay attention to and says much about what they value. We believe that one of the greatest challenges currently faced by the conservation movement – and others seeking to create stronger relationships between healthy people, communities and lands – is the way we define, talk about and measure success. The challenge is that we become what we measure, and conservationists primarily measure dollars, acres, and biological diversity.
  • The Ursula Project
    • The earth, and its ability to sustain life, is the origin of all real wealth and the only logical fundamental basis of value. We are required to sustain it, so that it may sustain us. To sustain it, first we must value it. To value it, we must assess it. To assess it we must measure it. To measure it, we require a rule. URSULA uses a standard of global sustainability as the rule by which value is measured and assessed.


  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science



  • Bob Raynolds (DMNS)
  • Ka Chun Yu (DMNS)


  • Bob Raynolds (DMNS)
  • Ka Chun Yu (DMNS)
  • Ned Gardiner (NOAA)
  • David McConville (The Elumenati)

GIS & Visualizations

  • Ned Gardiner (NOAA)
  • Lindsay Irving (CAS)
  • Ka Chun Yu (DMNS)
  • David McConville (The Elumenati)


  • Tito Dupret
  • History Colorado
  • Bob Raynolds (DMNS)
  • Savory Institute
  • Jon Waterman
  • Ka Chun Yu (DMNS)

Production Coordination

  • Lindsay Irving (CAS)

Technical Support

  • Greg Mancari (DMNS)
  • Ka Chun Yu (DMNS)
  • DMNS Support
  • Julia Beegles-Spalding (DMNS)
  • Liz Davis (DMNS)
  • Jessaca Fox (DMNS)
  • Dan Neafus (DMNS)


  • Colorado Foundation for Water Education
  • Biohabitats
  • Denver Water
  • Aurora Water
  • Savory Institute
  • Colorado Geological Survey
  • Central Colorado Water Conservation District
  • Cherry Creek Stewardship Partners
  • Colorado Climate Center, CSU
  • Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Colorado State University Extension Service
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • Department of Atmospheric Science, CSU
  • Douglas County Water
  • Loveland Museum/Gallery
  • Northern Water conservancy District
  • St. Vrain Left Hand Water Conservation District
  • Watershed School
  • Wright Water Engineers
  • Gustavo Fontes
  • Gene Reetz
  • Jon Waterman
  • Karen Kudebeh
  • Western Water Assessment


  • Colorado Foundation for Water Education
  • Biohabitats
  • Denver Water