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USD Just Read!: 2015-2016: Bottled & Sold by Peter H. Gleick

This program encourages literacy and deep dialogue on social themes presented through outstanding literature.

Just Read Events

Fall 2015 Events

  • Dan Misleh, Catholic Climate Covenant 10/08  4-6pm Warren Auditorium
  • Alcalá Park Readers Book Discussion  10/13   12:30-2pm  Salomon Hall
  • Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion  11/06   3-5pm  UC Forum B
  • Screening of Water Mark   10/27   5-7pm  Salomon Hall
  • Dr. Peter Gleick     11/12    7-8:30pm  Shiley Theatre

Register for all other events online, or call (619) 260-7402

or email 

View a printable schedule for USDJust Read! 2015-2016

Bottled & Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water

Peter Gleick knows water. A world-renowned scientist and freshwater expert, Gleick is a MacArthur Foundation genius, and according to the BBC, an environmental visionary. And he drinks from the tap. Why don't the rest of us?

Dr. Gleick’s work has redefined water from the realm of engineers to the world of social justice, sustainability, human rights, and integrated thinking. His influence on the field of water has been long and deep: he developed the first analysis of climate change impacts on water resources, the earliest comprehensive work on water and conflict, and defined basic human needs for water and the human right to water – work that has been used by the UN and in human rights court cases. He pioneered the concept of the “soft path for water,” developed the idea of “peak water,” and has written about the need for a “local water movement.” He co-founded and leads the Pacific Institute in Oakland, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012 as one of the most innovative, independent non-governmental organizations in the fields of water and economic and environmental justice and sustainability.

Bottled and Sold shows how water went from being a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products of the last one hundred years-and why we are poorer for it. It's a big story and water is big business. Every second of every day in the United States, a thousand people buy a plastic bottle of water, and every second of every day a thousand more throw one of those bottles away. That adds up to more than thirty billion bottles a year and tens of billions of dollars of sales.

Are there legitimate reasons to buy all those bottles? With a scientist's eye and a natural storyteller's wit, Gleick investigates whether industry claims about the relative safety, convenience, and taste of bottled versus tap hold water. And he exposes the true reasons we've turned to the bottle, from fear mongering by business interests and our own vanity to the breakdown of public systems and global inequities. "Designer" H2O may be laughable, but the debate over commodifying water is deadly serious. It comes down to society's choices about human rights, the role of government and free markets, the importance of being "green," and fundamental values. Gleick gets to the heart of the bottled water craze, exploring what it means for us to bottle and sell our most basic necessity.                                                                                 

Water Quality

Water Quality

  • Addition of freshwater from precipitation into existing water bodies
  • Dissolution of minerals in geologic media
  • Erosion resulting from run-off and other sources
  • Mining activities that release heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, etc.
  • Farming activities that include the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers
  • Poor sanitation around water environments
  • Industrial sources such as releases of gas fumes from factories, cars, and tanning and leather work, etc.

Our work on water quality issues aims to educate communities and individuals to safeguard water quality through:

  • Action-based research
  • Release of tools and technologies to improve water quality
  • Community empowerment through knowledge sharing and training using research results
  • Capacity building of governments and local government staff and water professionals