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Water Is Not Just Water

A conversation with Elena Berg and Michael Mascha

Elena Berg, a professor of Environmental Science at AUP and a recently certified water sommelier, has been collaborating with fellow water sommelier Michael Mascha to produce a 9-part zoomcast series called “Water is Not Just Water” that explores the importance of water from multiple perspectives. Where does water come from? Why is it so central to our existence? What are the different sources of water, and what contributes to its flavor? How have humans interacted with and controlled water throughout human history, and what has led to the rise of the bottled water industry? In the environmental movement, bottled water is a symbol of corporate greed and needless waste, and companies that produce bottled water have been vilified for privatizing and commodifying a resource that should be a basic human right, for turning people against their tap water (even in regions where tap water is generally safe and well-regulated), and for generating mountains of discarded plastic. Berg and Mascha take a closer look at this industry, particularly the small independent companies that sell fewer bottles from sustainably-drawn sources at a higher price point. In addition to elevating water to a more prominent position in the epicurean world, these “small water farmers” may be particularly well-positioned to serve as environmental spokespeople for the protection of natural waters in their myriad guises.