Does Anybody Drink Tap Water?

Do people who exhort everybody to drink tap water actually drink it? I find this impossible to believe because tap water in every place I ever lived was absolutely disgusting. To put  it bluntly, it stinks. In the sense of having a very nasty smell. And it tastes horrible. It’s especially annoying when I go to a restaurant and a waiter plops a glass of this nasty toilet-smelling water right in front of me. I never know if I’m supposed to drink it or wash my feet in it.

Please don’t mention filters because the linked story makes it very clear that the blogger in question drinks tap water in situations where no filters are available:

If you carry a reusable water bottle with you when you go out you can easily refill it as needed. In airports I empty mine out before I go through security and refill it on the other side, and I’m never without a drink when I need it.

I love the environment and everything, but drinking water from an airport toilet seems too extreme.

55 thoughts on “Does Anybody Drink Tap Water?

  1. I drink unfiltered tap water. When I’m out in rural Missouri I even drink water straight from a well, which everyone else says tastes eggy–but I love it!

    But then, I live in the St. Louis area and the tap water here won some kind of award for best taste.

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    1. A well is something I can totally understand.

      But I live in the St. Louis area, too, and the tap water even makes my hands smell bad after I wash them. Of course, as an autistic I’m extremely sensitive to smell.

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      1. I have smelled the water downtown and it was straight from some horror movie. I now reside about twenty five minutes away from the arch and there’s nothing wrong with the tap water here, smell nor taste.

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  2. It definitely depends on where you are. I’ve lived in places where the tap water taste better than most bottled water and in places where, even filtered, it made me gag. Airport water, even in areas with good tap water, always tastes weird to me, so I don’t refill reusable bottles while traveling.

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  3. Yeah, the two places I’ve ever lived for extended amounts of time have had wonderful tap water. The chicago suburbs get lake michigan water which is fantastic, and the Ithaca tap water is fine too. I went to summer camp in Michigan and oh god the water was revolting. I’m gagging just thinking about that sulfurous bile.

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  4. Our tap water is very pure, but it is mildly chlorinated, so we filter it. When I’m traveling I drink tap water but let it sit for a while before drinking it to let the bad odors pass off.

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  5. My boyfriend is all about just getting water from public fountains – including at the airport (don’t forget, they have actual drinking fountains, so technically you don’t need to refill your water bottle IN the toilet area.)
    I will take that if I really need a sip of water and we’re at a store or something (grocery store, mall), but otherwise, I prefer my water bottled/filtered.

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    1. It’s worth noting that public fountains usually have a separate cooling mechanism (so you rarely get luke-warm water from them – the cold temperature helps kill any taste) as well as their own filter on the water line.

      Also, depending on your location, the tap water will vary. When I lived in Somerville, MA, the tap water was perfect, both on campus and off campus. But only a few miles away at my parents’ house, the water didn’t taste great. I’d still drink it since it’s so much cheaper than bottles, and I’d rather not waste my parents’ money (I drink about a gallon a day, minimum).

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  6. I live in Tshwane, South Africa, and I always drink tap water. But when travelling to some other cities, like Athens and Moscow, I have been warned not to do so, and so I don’t when in those places. But tap water in most South African cities is safe and pleasant to drink.

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    1. I accidentally allowed some water to get into my mouth while I was taking a shower in the Dominican Republic and even though I spit it out immediately I had the worst poisoning in my life.

      And then three days later the same happened to my husband. 😦

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      1. On the same day I read this, and blogged about it myself, I also read this on Facebook:

        “South Africa is one of only 12 countries where tap water is safe to drink. Its tap water is rated the third best worldwide.”

        I don’t know how true it is, but it seems to go some way towards explaining why people in other countries have this obsession with drinking bottled water, even though, I gather, 48% of the bottled water sold in the US is tap water.

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  7. I filter at home (because I have one) but drink tap water in airports, universities, public fountains, etc all over the place. I’ve only lived places where it’s been safe to drink though. You can get water bottles that have filters if you want to use a water bottle and also a filter.

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      1. There’s not really a correlation. For example, the water in Cairo, Egypt is safe to drink because it’s very heavily chlorinated, but that makes it taste and smell bad as well. The water from my parents’ well in one part of the US smells funny, two miles away it’s fine from the same watershed but a different well and they are both safe to drink.

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  8. I almost always drink tap water. I do find that in some places it tastes better than in others. When I’m living in Humboldt county I usually filter it at home, but if I have to drink it unfiltered, I will.

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  9. I never ever ever drink tap water. I have lived several places in the US and have found that some places have tap water that is slightly less horrible but none of it is actually “good.” Only bottled water for me. (And I drink _loads_ of water on a daily basis.)

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      1. Ha ha. I know. I am shocked at the amount of people who say they drink tap water! I keep thinking that they must not drink much water!………Re: a favorite water……I get my water delivered to me (so I have a little cooler in my kitchen.) So it’s some local company that delivers where I live. If I am away from home, I really like Fiji and Arrowhead. But I will drink any bottled water. I’m not picky once it’s bottled. 🙂

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  10. I drink it in places where I live (and am therefore accustomed to it). But I rarely drink it — at least not straight, without filtering or lemon or something — in places that I’m visiting.

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  11. I drank bottled water in Montana because the towns I lived in had a problem with lead in the water, and it’s generally not a good idea to drink tap water on a reservation, because of quality control issues. In Victoria though, I’ve never had a problem with the water quality and drink from the tap all the time.

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  12. I drink tap water. I’m nowhere near organized enough to carry a water bottle around with me, so if I am somewhere other than home I will drink out of whatever’s there (tap, drinking fountain, etc.). I’m WAAAY too cheap and WAAAAAAY too freaked-out about throwing things away to buy bottled water.

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  13. Ours is good. It’s good in Berkeley, too, and Lima, Peru. Bad in New Orleans and Santa Barbara, CA although technically safe. They say much Louisiana water is carcinogenic and many in N.O. won’t cook with tap water. You do realize much bottled water is just filtered/chilled tap water, right … and that the filter only gets certain minerals out, to balance taste, doesn’t make it safer …

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  14. Also NB, in US this bottled water craze is recent. It makes money. There used to be drinking fountains everywhere but they were a free service, municipal and so on. They have been disappearing, just as phone booths disappeared.

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  15. The water I grew up with was fantastic, clean, etc. and I drank from the tap a lot, though we had a bottled water service, because my mother was picky. The water where I live now is “safe”, but I’ve never felt comfortable with it – it tastes nasty, and I once had ice grow mold! But I’m also very much a “save the environment” person (somewhat related to my research, too), so I drink filtered tap water – I own a brita filter that lives in my fridge, that I use to fill my water bottle every day, and I only refill it from the bottled water or filtered water coolers at the university, if I run out (thank YOU university). But I recently acquired a beautiful set of water bottles made by brita that have built in filters – this has increased my tolerence for tap water where I live. Though I do have to say, living in the US, I have to make the assumption that my tap water is *safe* to drink, even if it is not pleasant. So I try to avoid the disposable plastic bottles. I’m a super big fan of my new filter-bottles, though – they work REALLY well, and definitely make me feel better about my tap water.

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  16. I often drink tap water. I live in Britain. It does taste better chilled but I have never found the taste disgusting.

    I never ever buy bottled water. If I’m going to buy a bottled drink I buy fruit juice.

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  17. I live in Germany, so tap water is fine pretty much everywhere. It tastes a bit milky. But what surprised me was that when I went to the Ardèche valley in France a few years ago I discovered that the tap water was absolutely undrinkable there. It had a worse chlorine stech than most of the swimming pools I’d been to. Yet at the same time the water from the Ardèche river is sold bottled. Apparently the people who actually *live* by the river don’t get any of that world-class water.

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  18. How do you come up with such fun discussion topics!

    Unlike you, I… love tap water. Love it. And in my view, the idea of having to buy water is revolting.

    I love the different tastes of water in different cities. In fact, I love tasting water so much that I am looking forward to tasting it in airports! The only places where I have been to and did not like the water were Mexico D.F. and Monterrey (where I simply could not drink it) and southern Ontario (where I had to make efforts to drink it). Where I work right now (upstate NY) water tastes like milk and I do not like it at all. I have to make an effort to drink it.

    Best ‘municipal’ tap water? New York City. I am not kidding.

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    1. Yes, NYC tap water is fantastic.

      And those plastic bottles are a huge contributor to global warming, it is outright immoral to buy them in my view.

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      1. “And in my view, the idea of having to buy water is revolting.

        Mine, too.”

        – I don’t understand this. We all pay for water that is delivered to us by the municipality. It takes work to purify water and make it potable. Why shouldn’t we pay for this work? It isn’t like anybody can drink straight from the Mississippi without kicking the bucket.

        Yay, I came up with a silly pun. 🙂

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  19. Totally depends where you are and what the local conditions are. In some European countries, e.g. Scandinavia, they don’t even sell bottled water (only carbonated, not still), because the tap water is so good that everyone drinks it and it doesn’t occur to people to buy bottled water.

    In other places in Europe, tap water is undrinkable – example being islands in the Mediterranean, where there is not enough water and what there is is heavily chlorinated. When I was on holiday in Santorini, there were posters everywhere warning the tourists to not use tap water for drinking and to even use bottled water for washing the teeth.

    In yet third places, e.g. in the Alps, the tap water is excellent, but people started buying bottled water for convenience and so you can get it everywhere.

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    1. “Scandinavia, they don’t even sell bottled water (only carbonated, not still)” Yes, they do sell still water here.

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  20. I only drink tap water. I couldn’t afford to buy bottled water all the time. I’d rather buy good food, which doesn’t come for “free” (neither does tap water, I know, but there’s still a big difference to buying bottles).

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      1. I’m lucky. Parisian water is pretty good, in my opinion. I could not imagine living in an area where the tap water is too polluted to be consumed. Vacations in Italy have been pretty annoying because of that: schlepping litre bottles of water without a car, ugh.

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  21. I drink tap water because it’s free and I don’t make a lot of money. Also where I am currently living it tastes okay. In Miami water tasted like a swimming pool because they chlorinate it so heavily, in Central Florida it tasted (and smelled) like rotten eggs because of sulfur. But I just would get used to it after a while. I do also drink bottled water, but not regularly, because of the little voice in my head that says “why are you spending money on something you could get for free.”

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  22. I drink St. Louis tap water. I don’t know anything about Edwardsville tap water, but I would assume that it comes from a different water purification facility.

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  23. Bottled water is mostly tap water from someplace else, bottled. I drink it, but filtered, at home. St Louis water tastes ok. Lawrence, KS, water, no so good.

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  24. I drink it depending the city/country. In Finland where I live I have no problems to drink tap water (and actually enjoy it). In Brasil, where I com from, no way, specially in big cities like S. Paulo. When I was in Russia I was also taught not to

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  25. It’s entirely possible that bottled water you purchase is the self same tap water at your sink. There is no regulation and lots of misleading bottle claims (“mountain spring” water, right). IMPORTANT: Bottled water is a scam because it diverts momentum and resources from FIXING your city’s municipal water source. Rather than fix your local treatment plant you can lease your water to someone who makes money from it. Sick. Don’t do it.

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    1. Once again, I drink S. Pellegrino. It’s a type of sparkling mineral water. Which makes it definitely not what comes from my tap. 🙂

      “It’s entirely possible that bottled water you purchase is the self same tap water at your sink.”

      – I know that this is definitely true in what concerns the brand “Arctic Mountain”, for example. It tastes of soap. Brrr. How disgusting.

      At home, we use a filter (Brita) for the water we use to drink and cook. S. Pellegrino is quite expensive, so I can’t drink as much of it as I’d like to.

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  26. “It’s entirely possible that bottled water you purchase is the self same tap water at your sink.”
    Unlike Clarissa, I do drink “flat” bottled water–not sparkling. And bottled water smells and tastes entirely different than the water from my tap. I understand that I may be purchasing filtered municipal water but whatever they do to the water makes it taste different than tap water. I can’t even drink the tap water from a Brita. I don’t think the Brita fixes the taste. I feel confident that American tap water is safe: I cook with it, wash with it etc etc. I just can’t drink it. I understand the environmental aspect so I try to be mindful of the environment in other ways. I am just so surprised that so many here find tap water palatable. I truly find it putrid. The thought of turning on the faucet and drinking a glass of tap water gives me shivers!

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    1. ” I am just so surprised that so many here find tap water palatable. I truly find it putrid. The thought of turning on the faucet and drinking a glass of tap water gives me shivers!”

      – I know! Putrid is precisely the word for it.

      I find that Dasani tastes very good and definitely not like tap water.

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      1. I like Dasani. I think that actually might be filtered tap water. But you are right: it tastes great. And I love Voss. But as you say, it’s sooo expensive (and not widely available). But on the plus side, the bottles make beautiful vases! 🙂

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        1. “But on the plus side, the bottles make beautiful vases!”

          – Oh my God, we are SO alike!! I use them as vases, too! I have also filled several with multi-colored grains (lentils, green and yellow peas, flax seed, rice) and they look beautiful. Also turned out to be much cheaper than any other grain-storing receptacle.

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  27. UK reader here – I drink tapwater because I’m cheap, find carbonated water has negative effects on my digestion, and I worry about unnecessary waste -plastic bottles are bad, but glass ones still aren’t great. The taste does vary depending on where you are, but that’s kind of neat I think, and although I have preferences it’s all drinkable

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  28. You are right about the water in St Louis Michigan. You are also right about the restaurants. The best restaurants in the county are in St. Louis and you can’t drink anything there except the booze. I do believe in filters. You can filter any water to make it good but in St Louis its a case of benzene and sulfur that make the smell. The black junk that flows through the city water looks like caulking. It is the worst water ever. What a plague in a nice city.

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