Thinking Like Water

Thinking Like Water offers the pioneering work of 88-year-old “water wizard” Bill Zeedyk, and his proteges and allies, who have continually devised ways of transforming degraded wetlands and drylands into more resilient ecosystems that help gird against drought and climate change.

Zeedyk soothes the watershed, coaxes straightened streams back on their natural meandering course, lifts the creek, raises the water table and recreates lost habitats. All while using simple nature-based restoration techniques he designed or innovated upon. These constellations of “Zeedyk structures” have slowly gained favor over the last 25 years and now his methods have even been institutionalized.

Inspirational and practical, the film gifts to the viewer practices that can be taken right out of the viewing realm and into their own landscapes. Zeedyk’s rise, after retirement, to a legendary visionary in ecological restoration will provide inspiration to anyone who longs to make a difference in the world, at any age, and in any field.



Originally immersed in a career in the corporate realms in her 20’s, Renea found herself restless for a different kind of exploration of meaning and place. After receiving a Master’s in Community Psychology, gaining skills to observe complex social issues and learn from a population’s lived knowledge in solving those challenges, she embarked on telling visual stories.

Her work is at an intersection of the practical and philosophical – often diving into cultural and physical landscapes, civic relations, beauty and individual empowerment.


Renea Roberts


Renea Roberts


Bill Zeedyk

Year Released:







Thinking like water got me thinking about water. The Olympian swimmers and divers. The different devices used for recreation. The mud pies we made as kids. The mud bath used for a luxurious spa treatment.
Some are happy being by the water like fishing enthusiasts catching dinner or like the ocean, hearing the waves and seeing them tumble in along with the surfers. Water takes on different forms as in rivers, creeks, ponds etc. and we’re all familiar with the dreaded backed up faucet that leaks the drip drip.

Director biographer Renea Roberts artfully opens her documentary with fresh, crisp, inviting pictures of Spring, the rebirth and renewal in life, the cyclical rejuvenation – with a voice over by Bill Zeedyk who wrote some profound thoughts years ago about Spring and shares them here.

Bill Zeedyk has the superhero abilities in this story (there are five parts, this is Episode One – Willing to try new things). And he has some impressive and qualified company that support, test and assist his ideas and applies them in the field and it’s exhilarating to hear Bill and his colleagues share their knowledge on landscape erosion control and water maneuvering for maximum effect. You know this is far from a hobby or a casual thing.

The EPA, NM Environmental Dept., the Forest Service and the NM Trout group all support and endorse his practices. And the US Government has included his principles in their highly regulated and exclusive materials. And what might be the best part? Bill has taught many workshops on reading the landscape, restoring it, promoting natural processes, building one rock dams, fixing water sheds and the like to the ‘Do It Yourself’ people. And he invented the Post Vane. And in this film, you’ll see what that is with its spectacular effectiveness and enjoy the impressive before and after photos and diagrams.

“Let the Water do the Work”, Induced Meandering, an Evolving Method for Restoring Incised Channels is a book written by Bill Zeedyk and Van Clothier.

It’s true that without water there is no life. There’s no substitution. We would not survive. All living creatures use it and need it – and all living things too – like vegetation and plant life.
And fortunate for us, Bill Zeedyk asks the right questions, one of which is: “what would water do if it were in synch with the environment”, he has the right goal: get damaged systems back to health, and he has the intelligence, discipline and generosity of spirit to teach his principles so that we can participate and make our world more functioning (naturally) for our kids and grandkids.
A superhero indeed.

Jean Sulli

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