Chicago-based national writer and visual journalist Martha Irvine teamed with AP photographer Dar Yasin from Srinagar, India, to look at how while millions of people worldwide don’t have clean water to drink, luxury water brands have emerged for the world’s wealthy and elite. The pair traveled to Bhutan, a remote mountain kingdom where journalists rarely journey, for a view into the world of this luxury water. From a pure spring on the edge of the Himalayas, Irvine and Yasin documented how water is bottled and sold to the rich in India, one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. Even though the United Nations deemed water a basic human right more than a decade ago, as extreme heat dries up more aquifers and wells and leaves more people thirsty, luxury water has become fashionable among the world’s privileged, who uncap and taste it like fine wine.
The story was picked up by global customers and competitors including Bloomberg News and ABC News, and a number of international and domestic clients, including Japan Times, Ha’aretz and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There were two Instagram posts, one with video and one with photos and a text story. In total, there were more than 7,200 likes and dozens of comments — much discussion about the disparity and whether water is a human right. The YouTube numbers were 2,500 views.