Exhibitions & Events



Lost Prairie Valley

Planetary Bayou

Field Guide to Environmental Crime: Houston and the Oil Coast

Dead Zones

Extinction Simulation Landscapes

Lunar Mosaics

MacDowell Trilogy

Humans Lived Here Once

Whole Life Academy

Comfort in Hydrology

Uncanny Sensing, Remote Valleys

Water Castle

Radio Aporee Sound Map

Midstream at Twilight



Forest Threnody

Big Hill Petro-glyphs

Current State

Points of Presence

Brandenburg Series

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Sonic Boom Archive

Johnston Island Saturday Night

Suspension of Disbelief

Quantum Danube


Culpeper Media Bunker

A Doubting World

“... the floors of silent seas”

Background Listening Post

Regional Spatialities

Dark Places

Ultimate High Ground

American Oil Vol. I

Kleine Stücke von Berlin


Playas Townsite

Shepard Inversion Ghost


Shock + Awe

Gloom & Doom / Tactile Air

Routes of Least


Weather Radio

Site: Nonsite: Quartzsite

The Mountain Radio Project

Ballarat: Beneath Sentinel

CLUI Projects

Networked Nation


Urban Crude

CLUI Touchscreen

Texas Oil

Wendover, U.S.A.

CLUI Exhibit Posters

Pavement Paradise

Vacation: Dauphin

Dissipation & Disintegration

Terminal Island

Immersed Remains

Diversions & Dislocations

Emergency State

Loop Feedback Loop

A View into the Pipe

Ground Up

Nellis Range - Revisited

West Coast Points

The Best Dead Mall


Antarctic 1

One Wilshire

Alternate Routes

Proximity Issue

Back to the Bay

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© 2024 Steve Rowell


Steve Rowell



In 1988, a permit issued by the US Forest Service to Arrowhead Puritas Waters Inc. for the extraction of spring water from the San Bernardino Mountains expired. Despite the expired permit, Nestle Waters of North America (owner of Arrowhead Puritas Waters, Inc.) has continued to pay the annual usage fee of $524 for unlimited water extraction. The millions of gallons from the small springs which once fed Strawberry Creek is transported by truck to their Ontario and Morongo plants where it is bottled and taken to distribution points across the state. When water is tapped without a permit, proper oversight and monitoring evaporates.

Even less is known about Nestlé’s operation on Morongo Reservation land – how much water is taken from the mountain springs, access fees paid to the tribal council, millions of gallons bottled. Since the Morongo Reservation is sovereign land, federal and state scrutiny (and regulation) doesn’t necessarily apply. Retail prices for a single half-liter (16.9 oz) ranges up to $2 per bottle. While the bottled water industry is only a fraction of the percentage of water use and waste in urban applications and pales in comparison to the billions of gallons used in California’s agricultural areas, the existence of any bottled water presence during this unprecedented and catastrophic drought begs the question: Should the citizens of California allow global conglomerates such as Nestlé to profit from our most precious and increasingly limited natural resource?

Premiere: October 26-November 15, 2015
Shanahan Center Gallery, Harvey Mudd College (HMC)

The installation version of this project investigates the spatial conditions around this issue and coincides with a commissioned tour, Arrowhead Fountainhead, which occurred on October 24, 2015. That tour and this project deals, in general, with the issue of drought in California, and more specifically, with sites on the landscape which represent controversial exploitation of public water resources. Rather than an exhaustive survey of the state, or even Southern California, this installation focuses on specific sites and contexts in the San Bernardino Valley and environs which evoke the larger issue. Also featured are two remote sites – Desert Shores at the evaporating Salton Sea and the Zzyzx abandoned health spa deep in the Mojave Desert – which simultaneously serve as relics of an optimistic past as well as omens of a future landscape of drought and squandered resources.

Single channel 4K aerial drone video downsampled to HD with two channel audio, 19 minutes (looping), inkjet prints (3D satellite images) yellow cordage, T-pins, active PA speakers, projector, pedestals.