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The Flavor of Water

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Run down to the local store and you’ll find bubbly, bottled water in a variety of flavors, but the stuff running from your faucet is just, well, water flavored, right?

Dr. Pinar Omur-Ozbek takes a sniff. (Courtesy photo)

Not necessarily, according to Dr. Pinar Omur-Ozbek.

This week’s Science Cafe, presented by the CSU professor, promises to be a refreshing program explaining the science behind, in, and around your average glass of water here in Northern Colorado.

Dr. Omur-Ozbek is originally from Ankara, Turkey where she received her B.S. in environmental engineering. After working with a construction company there, and learning more about the infrastructure behind the distribution of water, she continued her studies and eventually her Ph.D., here in the states at Virginia Tech.

Through her research, Pilar became more intrigued with the growing environmental concerns of drinking water, and even our perception of it based on taste and smell. She went on to develop an international standard for flavor and odor analysis.

When a dual academic situation became available, the professor and her husband relocated to this area to teach at CSU two and a half years ago. They fell in love with the area, the sunshine, and undoubtedly the water.

I’m not much of a connoisseur of drinking water myself, but my refrigerator was stocked with bottled water when I lived in Southern California years ago. Although perfectly safe, the tap water in my town there was horrible. It was a pleasant surprise – and cheaper – to discover Northern Colorado’s supply to be refreshing and tasty straight from the faucet.

It’s probably something most of us take for granted, but Pinar explains – with enthusiasm and in terms easy to understand – the many factors going into that life sustaining fluid. Metals, algae, treatment or disinfection, age, and even the materials used in the pipes can all contribute to not just the quality, but the flavor of our drinking water.

The second half of her discussion will address the human perceptions of that glass of water. If it’s cloudy or green, we’re going to assume it tastes horrible, right? Also, a fun test by the good professor will demonstrate the differences between smell and taste.

Whether you take that tall drink of water with nary a thought, or you’re part of the growing faction interested in the ecologic and environmental impact on our drinking supply, Dr. Omur-Ozbek’s presentation is sure to quench your thirst.


The free Science Cafe starts at 5:30, Wednesday, June 8, at Avogodro’s Number in Ft. Collins, where you can test the flavors of their food and drinks as well.

What about you? Do you also love our Rocky Mountain tap water or swear by bottled and filtered only? And why doesn’t it taste more like Chardonnay? Eight glasses a day would be more fun, right? Inquiring minds…

Written by Susan Richards

June 8th, 2011 at 6:20 am