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Safe-to-drink tapwater

  1. Jun 11, 2012 #1

    I am curious, do you guys know just where in this world the tapwater is perfectly safe to drink, without any processing (e.g. filtering or boiling)? In other words, pure goodness, fresh from the tap.

    How about the tapwater in the US and the UK?
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  3. Jun 11, 2012 #2


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    uk tapwater is fine :smile:
  4. Jun 11, 2012 #3


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    NL is best :smile: imho The reason: low hardness, no chlorine, no fluoride, neutral taste.

    According to the "world taste panel" CA is pretty good as well..
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  5. Jun 11, 2012 #4


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    Canada is fine.

    It seems to me that, due to the nature and definition of "tapwater", it would be a much shorter list of what places in the world did not have potable tapwater.

    Or possibly I am misunderstanding the question. When you say "tapwater is perfectly safe to drink, without any processing (e.g. filtering or boiling)", do you mean after coming out of the tap (i.e. tapwater)? Or do you mean before it comes out of the tap (i.e. municipal water)?

    Because if you mean the latter, I would be less ambiguous and say:

  6. Jun 11, 2012 #5


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    The water you get out of the tap in your kitchen sink is perfectly safe to drink almost everywhere in the US with a municipal water supply, as far as I know. The flavor might be an issue, however. My wife doesn't like the taste of our tap water, and drinks bottled water instead. On the other hand, I have no problem with the taste, and drink tap water without hesitation.
  7. Jun 11, 2012 #6


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    Unless you live in Wisconsin, where the legislature overturned regulations requiring treatment of tapwater to remove harmful pathogens.

    "That law [a state law in Wisconsin that required treatment of all municipal drinking water systems in the state] was rescinded by the Republican-controlled state Legislature a year ago. State Rep. Erik Severson, R-Star Prairie, sponsored an amendment that removed the requirement, arguing that the rule was an unnecessary financial and bureaucratic burden on communities with already strong water standards.

    At least 60 communities in Wisconsin do not treat drinking water with chlorine or ultraviolet light, both of which kill the contaminants, according to the DNR."
    http://host.madison.com/news/local/health_med_fit/new-wisconsin-study-on-viruses-in-drinking-water-could-have/article_e8e5eefe-ab87-11e1-95bf-001a4bcf887a.html [Broken]

    A study of 14 of these communities found pathogens in 24% of water samples and estimated that contaminants in the water supply were responsible for 6% to 22% of gastrointestinal illnesses in these communities, and could account for up to 63% of gastrointestinal infections in children under five.

    http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1104499#Ahead%20of%20Print%20%28AOP%29 [Broken]

    So yeah, Wisconsin is apparently now a 3rd world country...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Jun 11, 2012 #7


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    In my old stomping-grounds (Concord/Bingham/Moscow, Maine) the water is perfect. It comes from a drilled well in Concord. It is clean as can be, with just a hint of iron. It routinely places very well or wins in municipal water taste-tests.
  9. Jun 11, 2012 #8


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    I don't think that is a very helpful distinction in the UK at least, because some water coming from normal-looking taps, intended only for hand washing, horticulture, etc, may NOT be drinkable. You can't tell where the supply comes from just by looknig at the tap.

    But in the UK, any tap supplying non-drinkable water should have a warning sign like these:
    not_drinkable.gif http://www.edgesigns.co.uk/Areas/Shop/Content/Images/Products/Full/cautionnotdrinkingwater.gif
  10. Jun 11, 2012 #9
    It's fine in Australia too, and like in the UK, any sources that it's not safe will be marked. Generally, any public tap is safe.
  11. Jun 11, 2012 #10


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    everyone does it in new zealand, so i assume it's fine
  12. Jun 11, 2012 #11

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    Tap water quality is federally regulated under the Safe Water Drinking Act of 1974. The communities in question were in compliance with federal law. It says so in the paper.

    Furthermore, the study you cite had data collected in 2006 and 2007, years before any change in Wisconsin law.
  13. Jun 11, 2012 #12


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    In Christchurch, New Zealand, we do drink the water straight out of the ground, not chlorinated or in any other way treated. We have the advantage of being able to tap straight into a rock aquifer.

    This is exceptional of course. I've lived in other places like London where it is said the water has been through five other people before it gets to you - an exaggeration, but it did taste like it.
  14. Jun 11, 2012 #13
    I've lived in several US cities and drink tapwater pretty much exclusively. I grew up on US tapwater. I'm 65 and pretty healthy. Afaik, US tapwater is more frequently monitored than bottled water, and therefore, I assume, generally safer. But considering Dave's remarks, afaik, it's all (ie., the water I've been drinking for 65 years) filtered and chemically processed.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  15. Jun 11, 2012 #14
    I live in The Netherlands in the Rotterdam area and the water is very hard here. So much so that I occasionally have minor problems with skin dryness, ecszema and dandruff, which almost immediately go away when I travel to the Amsterdam area.

    In terms of pathogens most drinking water in the first world is generally safe. I'm more concerned with endocrin disruptors from industrial sources, household waste and medications flushed through the toilet (either thrown away or excreted naturally). The problem with endocrine disruptors is that they have many complex effects instead of simple effect like heavy metals and other pollutants. They can also reinforce eachother, at least in laboratory studies, making their effects even more untractable and potentially dangerous.

    I once saw a BBC documentary on this subject but can't seem to find it on youtube now. It was very disturbing and afaik not much has changed since then. Maybe someone can find?
  16. Jun 11, 2012 #15
    This is interesting to me in that I've noticed that I have had drier skin during certain times (correlated with living in certain, different places). I had never thought to associate it with the public drinking water.
  17. Jun 11, 2012 #16


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    Here is A PBS documentary on endocrine disruptors.


    If the above link doesn't work the link below explains the situation. In the USA scientists are finding eggs in the testes of male fish in many rivers. That includes the Potomac which provides the Washington DC water supply.

    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  18. Jun 12, 2012 #17


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    I'm half a continent away from Dave, but still in Canada. My town and a few others, along with Calgary, derive our water from the Bow River. Ours is very good tasting, and is quite cold if you let it run for a while. (I keep a 2.8 L jug in the fridge, though, to save cost and time.) Every once in a while, though, when there's a serious mountain snow melt and the river runs too high, it overwhelms the treatment facilities and "boil water" advisories are issued. It's still fine for bathing and whatnot, but should be boiled for a minimum of one minute in order to be safe for drinking. That doesn't usually last more than a day or two.
  19. Jun 12, 2012 #18
    Thanks, this is indeed what I meant. It's particularly allarming when one takes into consideration the fact that sperm health and count and thus male fertility in humans have ostensibly been decreasing by a very large amount for at least a couple of decades. There could be many reasons for this and there probably are, but one disturbing fact is that human male sperm count is inversely related to exposure to bisphenol A, according to one Harvard study.

    I can not post links because I don't have 10 posts yet.
  20. Jun 12, 2012 #19
    I played around with gapminder, and found what most of you have mentioned: in terms of percentage of population using improved water source, most first-world country are up there, including us, canada, uk, and most european countries, also Australia, New Zealand:


    Improved water source includes piped water into dwelling and public tap.

    yeah, but I think there is no guarantee that it is free from those endocrine disruptors.
    Anyone had kidney stone from drinking tapwater? :biggrin:
  21. Jun 12, 2012 #20
    Perfectly fine in Denmark. Most of the time :biggrin:
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