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How safe is UK tap water?


Clean drinking water may be regarded as a basic right. Yet 800 million people still have to travel at least 30 minutes, just to find a safe supply. In some parts of the world, drinkable tap water is nothing more than a pipe dream – with many having to source polluted supplies from contaminated wells, rivers and streams.

The following facts highlight how severe water inequality is in global terms:

  • 71% of people have treated water available at home
  • 18% can access treated water but must walk for up to 30 minutes before reaching a sanitised outlet
  • 844 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water
  • Impure drinking water causes 502,000 deaths every year

*According to the latest World Health Organisation data.

Which countries have access to clean tap water?

Improved or treated tap water isn’t available everywhere. More than half of the populations of Somalia, Ethiopia and Madagascar lack access to safe drinking water. South America also struggles with treated water only being available in limited locations though in terms of water quality; Uruguay, Paraguay and Costa Rica have the best access to improved water. However, even here, several communities do not have safe water on tap with water shortages, infrastructure problems, natural disasters and pollution of water sources cited as the primary obstacles.

Most of Asia offers access to treated water, but there are still places where it is unsafe to drink it. So for peace of mind, a World Health Organisation study suggests travellers should only drink sealed, bottled water when travelling in Asia.

Which countries have the least access to treated drinking water?

Just as economic inequalities exist across the globe and within countries, we can see inequalities in access to the most straightforward need: access to clean drinking water. Even countries that are believed to supply safe drinking water may not have uninterrupted supply in certain regions. For example, in South Africa, people in Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces report frequent incidents in which tap water isn’t available for as much as two days at a time, whereas the Western Cape province rarely experiences interrupted supply.

As estimated by UNICEF, five countries are home to two-thirds of the world-wide population without access to treated drinking water.

  • China
  • India
  • Nigeria
  • Ethiopia
  • Indonesia

Why does tap water taste different across the UK?

Not all tap water was created equal. Often, differences in flavour come from the treatment process as chemicals are added to make impurities suspended in the water settle out in a sedimentation process. Chlorine is added to kill viruses that cause illness.

The primary cause of flavour variations in the UK stems from whether your water is hard or soft. Hard water contains high levels of salts such as calcium and magnesium, which can lead to the hard sediment or limescale, also found in kettles and dishwashers. Around 60% of the UK is classed with ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’ water with the chalkstone regions of both the south and east of England leading to much harder water than the rest of the UK.

  • London is rated as having moderately hard water
  • Kent, Essex and Surrey have very hard water
  • The north and south-west UK have soft water

Northern Ireland typically enjoys softer water, though border areas have moderately hard water. The majority of the Republic of Ireland, on the other hand, sees moderate to very hard water; aside from the north-western and south-western extremities. If you ever have an issue with your water quality, the government offers guidelines about steps you can take. Your first port of call may be to contact your water supplier directly who should be able to offer guidance to resolve any concerns. Then, if your supplier cannot provide a satisfactory response, there’s always the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

A Waterlogic bottleless water cooler could solve your woes

Improved water isn’t the same as purified water. If we were to use purity as a parameter, very few people would have access to pure water through their local water supply. Hence, many businesses and industries turn to filtration as a means of water purification.

Many of those who avoid drinking tap water, do so to avoid the taste of hard water. Bottleless, mains-fed water coolers produce the cleanest, most refreshing drinking water. By using a water system with the most advanced built-in technologies, the dispenser removes chlorine, heavy metals and other unwanted pathogens guaranteeing the purest-tasting water in every glass.

If you’d like to know more about Waterlogic’s home and commercial bottleless water filtration systems, get in touch and say yes to purified, bacteria-free water.