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How tap water varies across the world

How tap water varies across the world

Clean drinking water may be regarded as a basic right but 800 million people around the world don’t have access to it. In some parts of the world, drinkable tap water is nothing more than a pipe dream and many must collect it from polluted wells, rivers and streams.

Who has access to clean tap water?

Improved or treated tap water isn’t available everywhere. More than half of the population of Somalia, Ethiopia and Madagascar don’t have access to safe drinking water. South America also struggles, with treated water only being available in limited locations. In terms of water quality, Uruguay, Paraguay and Costa Rica have the best access to improved water, but even here, there are communities that do not have safe water on tap. Water shortages, infrastructure problems, natural disasters and pollution of water sources are 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. To be safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend travellers rely on sealed, bottled water when travelling in Asia, with the exception of Hong Kong which it regards as being on par with US tap water standards. Europe scores the highest points when it comes to clean tap water!

As you might be aware, the United States generally has a positive reputation surrounding its drinking water but there are some big question marks hanging over that statement. While it’s safer than untreated raw water, a host of industrial accidents, chemical spills and natural disasters have raised water quality fears. As National Geographic found in 2014, ageing infrastructure can mean that treated water can become contaminated after leaving treatment plants.

Tap water across the world

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 my tap water taste funny?

What you drink is just as important as the amount you consume. Any strange flavors you pick up when drinking tap water come from the treatment process. Chemicals are added to make impurities suspended in the water settle out in a sedimentation process. After that, chlorine is added to kill off viruses that could cause illnesses. However, once your drinking water has left the treatment plant, there are many opportunities for contamination. Leaks in water pipes let impurities in and although you probably can’t taste it, lead contamination from old plumbing pipes and fittings could be affecting your water. According to USA Today, as many as 63 million Americans are likely to have consumed unsafe, contaminated water in the last ten years.

Many of the strange tastes we pick up are really tap water smells that affect the way we perceive taste. Does your tap water look, taste, or smell weird? Use this Waterlogic guide to figure out why.

Filtered water vs. tap water

As we’ve seen, improved water isn’t the same as purified water. If we were to use purity as a parameter, very few people have access to pure water – at least not through their municipal water supply. Many householders, businesses and public institutions are turning to filtration as a means of purifying water. Why do they do it? Taste is a primary criterion. Those who avoid drinking tap water avoid it because they don’t like the taste of it. Others are concerned about hidden dangers that can’t be picked up through taste or smell. Lead contamination from plumbing and municipal water pipes has been reported in countries around the world.

Water filtration removes chemical residues and contaminants from tap water, allowing people to drink water with confidence: no funny taste and no health concerns. Would you like to find out about home or commercial water filtration systems? Choose Waterlogic and say yes to drinking purified and pathogen-free water.

Tap Water facts found by World Health Organization.