There is so much in the media these days about the quality of the water in our rivers and lakes, it may, therefore, make some people concerned as to how safe UK tap water is to drink. Many people still believe that buying water in plastic bottles from supermarkets, automatically means that they are assured of better quality drinking water. This may be the case in some countries around the world where well-regulated, municipal supply is not a guarantee – but not in the UK.
British tap water is said to be one of the best water supplies in the world, with a quality rating of 99.97%. These aren’t figures that are made up by water boards or even the government. These figures come from an independent inspectorate, set up to hold the water companies accountable and ensure a continuous supply of fresh, safe water, into homes and businesses across the UK. The body that monitors the water that comes out of our taps, is the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI).
It was formed in 1990 (so more than 30 years ago), to provide reassurance that drinking water supplies in England and Wales is acceptable to consumers. They ensure that the provision of safe drinking water is at the heart of the water industry, at all times.
Their latest report states:
“Overall, drinking water in England is of an excellent standard and this is demonstrated through a continuing high standard of 99.97% compliance. Consumers should therefore have confidence in their supply”.
For more information about the DWI, please visit their website https://www.dwi.gov.uk/ From here you can access information about your water company, what the DWI do, their latest Triennial report, the strategic objectives, and their enforcement policies.
The UK has some of the strictest regulations in the whole world, for drinking water quality. It is required by law to be fit for human consumption, and all water companies must test for a long list of organisms and chemicals that would not be desirable to consume. No matter what municipal supply you are using, all drinking water must meet strict bacterial and chemical standards before it reaches your tap. It is very normal, however, for there to be a differing “taste” to the water across the UK. This is mainly due to different mineral content and the varying water hardness in different regions.
In the South East, Southern Water is in charge of our supply. Here’s what they have to say about drinking water quality:
“We regularly sample drinking water to monitor its quality at our water supply works, service reservoirs, and customer taps”. “We also continuously monitor some water quality measures at our water supply works. Hundreds of thousands of samples are analysed across our region each year to comply with the water quality standards. We also carry out checks every time we do something that might affect water quality, for example when we’ve responded to a burst supply pipe or installed new water mains”. “When we receive complaints about water quality we take samples – more than 99% of all samples we check comply with the water quality standards”.
To find out about Southern Water, how hard your local supply is, and how they treat your drinking water, visit their website www.southernwater.co.uk
One final point when considering how best to hydrate is to seriously think about the very real and damaging impact bottled water has on the environment. Bottled water does not have to be tested for microbiological or chemical limits, anywhere near as frequently as UK tap water. Our own government website states that bottled water only has to be tested between once per month, to once per year!
If you are drinking bottled water from Europe, the Pacific Islands, Iceland, or the USA, as well as not being superior in taste to tap water, you have to give consideration to the ecological and environmental impact. For example: Taking water from an island supply halfway around the world, bottling it using a huge amount of electricity, packaging it in plastic made and shipped from China, shipping it around the world via container, and distributing it to local networks has a huge and unnecessary CO2 and environmental impact, as well as taking a considerable amount of time. How old is the water inside these bottles? Some bottled water purchased isn’t even “Mineral” water, and is just filtered tap water that has been bottled and sold to the consumers.
With all this rhetoric about tap water, you may wonder why you would even need a mains-fed cooler if you could just drink water from the tap? Mains-fed coolers allow you to have water where you need it – offices, receptions, meeting areas – all areas where a mains-fed tap may not be located.
Plumbed-in coolers chill your water, and this has a large impact on taste. In some studies, people preferred the taste of chilled water, over room temperature water. Finally plumbed-in coolers are all supplied with a 1-micron carbon block filter. These filters remove particles in water, such as chlorine, fluoride, and heavy metals, further improving the taste of the water. A micron is tiny (1/10th of a human hair’s width), for more information on this, please see our blog on the size of microns.
Plumbed-in water coolers are more environmentally friendly than bottled water and still allow you to access hydration, when and wherever you need it.