My Cart
Our Common Waters

Our Common Waters

Our Common Waters

No natural resource is more precious. None is shrinking faster as people consume more and more.
Our Common Waters, Patagonia’s 2010-2013 campaign, was about balancing human water use with the needs of animals and plants. The more water people use, the less there is for everything else. The more water we waste, the more habitat we destroy. The more we pollute our streams and lakes, the harder it is for animals and plants to survive.

In the campaign, we connected water use, the consumer society and threats to biodiversity. Existing threats range from increased human water use and water stress to pollution to dams. Each of these threats is made worse by climate change, which is already altering temperature and river flows. Almost half the animals on the U.S. threatened and endangered list call freshwater home.

Our Common Waters focused on water scarcity, broken rivers and pollution, as well as Patagonia’s use of water as a company. Here are some successes we can point to from the three-year campaign.

Scarcity: A New Colorado River Treaty
Patagonia joined with the Sonoran Institute and a large coalition of other organizations to encourage people in our community to write letters to then Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, asking him to help save the Colorado River Delta. The Delta (where the Colorado River ends in a series of wetlands at the Gulf of California) is now less than 10% of its original size.

In November of 2012, thanks to the efforts of many dedicated people, the U.S. and Mexico signed an historic treaty – the first bi-national agreement to restore vital flows to the delta.

Broken Rivers: Historic Dam Removal and Patagonia Sin Represas
We saw big dams come down on the White Salmon and Elwha Rivers in Washington state and two dams on the Penobscot River in Maine. Altogether, 65 dams were removed across the United States in 2012-13. We also lent our voice to stopping ill-conceived water projects from moving forward.

In the Patagonia area of Chile, proposed dams on the Pascua and Baker were stalled.

Pollution: Patagonia’s Water Footprint
An essential part of this campaign was Patagonia’s story as a company: the water cost of doing business, reducing our water footprint and reporting on our water use.

After agriculture, textile manufacturing is the next largest polluter worldwide. And because Patagonia makes clothes, the Our Common Waters campaign required us to examine and reduce our own impact on freshwater. We began working with bluesign® technologies in 2000. bluesign® is an independent group of chemists, based in Switzerland, who audit the energy, water and chemical use of their “system partners.” In 2011 we set a goal to use only bluesign® approved fabrics by our fall 2015 product season.

Since the start of the Our Common Waters campaign in January 2011, we more than doubled the number of bluesign partners among our suppliers from 16 to 45.We also shared our bluesign experience with other brands in the outdoor and apparel industry and– since July 2009 – the number of bluesign's system partners grew from 70 to 280.

Pollution: Reducing Storm Water Runoff
Polluted runoff is the number one source of contamination to California waters. Our headquarters are about an eighth of a mile from the Ventura River, which flows directly into the Pacific Ocean. A number of years ago, we replaced two sections of asphalt in our parking lot with permeable cement, which allows rainwater to percolate through and into the soil instead of rushing into storm drains, and ultimately, to the nearest river or coastal area. Recently, we added bioswales to our campus. Bioswales are low-lying channels that drain runoff. They contain soil on top of gravel layers that together with plants and mulch allow stormwater to soak into the soil, which naturally filters it.

Pollution: Tar Sands and Fracking
Tar Sands: From the strip mining of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the spider web of pipelines expanding across the U.S. and Canada, to ports and coastal areas that would act as hubs for export: at every point in the chain of production and transportation, water is at risk from tar sands development.

Between 75 and 80% of British Columbians, including two-thirds of BC’s federal Conservatives and more than 70 First Nations have united in opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Patagonia proudly supported several organizations working to stop this crude proposal and unite Canadians around a national energy strategy.

We also supported and the Sierra Club and helped to get over 40,000 activists to Washington, D.C. to take part in the largest climate demonstration in history to tell President Obama to move Forward on Climate and reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

Fracking: For decades, natural gas (methane) deposits were tapped by single wells drilled vertically over large, free-flowing pockets of gas. Then came hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a water- and chemical-intensive method that promised the profitable extraction of natural gas trapped in shale. One fracking well uses an average of 2 million to 8 million gallons of water, and 10,000 to 40,000 gallons of chemicals. The water used is contaminated.

Because of fracking’s wide-ranging risks and impacts, we supported fracking campaigns in several key areas across the country - from the battle to uphold the New York state fracking moratorium, to the community by community struggles to protect water, air, and land in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California and elsewhere. We support each community’s right to educate itself and regulate and/or ban fracking to protect its water, air, soil, and local ecosystems. We also support local, state and federal government efforts to monitor and regulate fracking.

Early Fall 2013
Running out of North
Dylan Tomine

Early Fall 2013
Three Heroes Against Three Pipelines
Bill McKibben

June 2013
Fracking Our Backyard
Casey Sheahan

Summer 2013
Dyeing Rivers

Spring 2013
Downstream From Your Jeans
Corinne Platt-Rikkers

Mountain 2013
The Sacred Headwaters
Wade Davis

Spring 2013
Putting Water Back
Eric Unmacht

Solstice 2013
Restoring Hetch Hetchy
Ken Brower

Dammed If We Don’t
Yvon Chouinard
Mountain 2012

Early Fall 2012
The Dawn of Dam Removal
Bruce Babbitt

Early Fall 2012
Running Free

Early Fall 2012
River of Sand

Early Fall 2012
Longhouse Wisdom

Early Fall 2012

Winter 2011
Seeing Red
Amy Irvine McHarg

Summer 2011
Shallow Undercurrents
Matt Stoecker

It’s Time to Save the Colorado River
By Kim Jordan and Casey Sheahan

Spring 2011
Patagonia’s Water Challenge
Vincent Stanley

Kids 2011
Toads in Trouble
Carin Knutson

Heart of Winter 2011
Earth Juice
Douglas H. Chadwick

Fall 2011
Clothes To Dye For
Vincent Stanley

Fall 2011
End of a River?
Jonathan Waterman

Europe Early Fall 2011
The End of Ice
Gretel Ehrlich

Fall 2011
Rios Libres
Craig Childs

Our Common Waters

Our Common Waters
The planet Earth faces a freshwater crisis. By the year 2025, human demand for water will account for 70 percent of all available freshwater.


DamNation is a collection of impassioned voices and spirited stories, a dynamic perspective on human attempts to harness and control the power of water at the expense of nature.


Set sail with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Patagonia and Woodshed Films for an exploratory surf trip along British Columbia’s unspoiled west coast. While searching for waves, the crew documents what would be threatened if the Northern Gateway tar sands oil pipeline is built.