COLUMBUS—A documentary film that explores the complexities of water access and affordability in Ohio will debut both virtually and in person on March 22, World Water Day.
The film, And Water for All, was written, directed, and produced by faculty, staff, and students from The Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR).
Building and maintaining the physical infrastructure to deliver high-quality, affordable water to Ohio’s citizens is a costly endeavor, and how to pay for these important investments can lead to heightened levels of social and political conflict. The documentary examines the challenges that governmental and nongovernmental actors will face to secure access to clean, affordable water in the coming decades.
“With this film, I set out to explore the complex conversations about water affordability across the state of Ohio with the goal of amplifying the voices of those who work toward providing clean, affordable water for all,” said Ramiro Berardo, SENR associate professor of environmental and natural resources policy and the film’s writer and director.
An 8 a.m. viewing of the documentary and a panel discussion will be offered as part of the Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) monthly program at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive. The program is free for students and virtual participants. For those attending in person, doors open at 7:15 a.m., with a 7:40 a.m. breakfast buffet available for $17. The full, three-session EPN program will cost $40 and will include breakfast. Register and learn more about the entire program and speakers here.
In the 60-minute documentary, Berardo talks with more than 15 Ohioans working on water affordability from different sectors: utilities, academia, neighborhoods, water plant operations, nongovernmental organizations, and Ohio EPA staff. They were concentrated in Toledo, Cleveland, New Waterford (a small rural community close to the Pennsylvania border), and Mount Air (an even smaller community north of Columbus).
The project got its start on World Water Day 2021 when the United Nations issued a global call for community leaders to ask and record what water access means to their residents and neighbors, to assess water’s true value, and to better educate people about how we can better protect and improve this vital resource in our communities.
A team of SENR researchers answered this call, starting with preproduction in March 2021, and traveling the past year across Ohio asking residents about the challenge of water affordability.
“The film reviews the financial challenges to build and maintain the expensive infrastructure to clean both drinking and waste water in rural and urban settings,” Berardo said. “Additionally, we examine the political difficulties utilities face when they serve populations that cannot afford to pay for the rapidly increasing rates needed to build and maintain state-of-the-art water infrastructure.”
Berardo’s academic work focuses on how policy actors interact with each other to find sustainable solutions to our most challenging societal issues. This is his first foray into documentary filmmaking.
To make the film, Berardo worked closely for over a year with director of photography and video editor Kirk Mason, owner of Kirk Mason Productions in Columbus, and executive producer Joseph Campbell, an SENR lecturer. The production team included undergraduate and graduate students from Ohio State.
View a trailer for the film here.
The March EPN program is an annual collaboration with Ohio State's School of Environment and Natural Resources, School of Earth Sciences, the Ohio Water Resources Center, Water Management Association of Ohio (WMAO), and TerrAqua.