Yes, you can safely drink tap water in Germany! The quality of German tap water is strictly regulated by the government, making it one of the cleanest tap waters in the world. Some regions in Germany have harder tap water than others, which might affect the taste. However, scientists and studies have found that it is safe to drink and not harmful to human health.
In this guide, we’ll explore where the tap water comes from, the reasons why it is such high quality, and tips you should know to take advantage of having good quality tap water in your home.
Where does tap water in Germany come from?
70% of Germany’s drinking water comes from groundwater and spring water, the rest from rivers, lakes, reservoirs, or wells near rivers and lakes.
The water is analyzed in the waterworks, and if necessary, it is processed. Once the water has been processed, it is released into the water pipelines, which is how we get it at home.
Depending on the region, the amount of water from each source might be different. Drinking water in Germany comes from the following sources:
- Naturally formed groundwater: The majority (62%) of tap water comes from groundwater, which forms when water from the surface seeps into the ground. The water that is absorbed by the ground can be from rain, lakes, or river water.
- Springwater: Spring water is water that emerges to the surface. How suitable this water is for drinking depends on whether the water comes from deep soil layers or sources near the surface. Water that comes from sources closer to the surface needs to be purified more.
- Artificially recharged groundwater: A process where the amount of water absorbed by the surface is intentionally increased by human-controlled means.
- Surface water: The water found in rivers, lakes, and dams
- Bank filtration: The process of infiltrating water from river and lake banks into the groundwater stream.
In NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia), where I live, a national news company created a tool to help the residents of this region find out their drinking water sources. For example, my drinking water is 25% groundwater and 75% from bank filtration in my home.
You can watch the following video to learn how the tap water cycle works. The video below talks about Berlin; however, this process applies to all other German cities.
Quality of tap water in Germany
If you would do a Google search for the cleanest or best tap water globally, Germany always makes the list and is in the top 10 countries.
Now, what does Germany do to achieve this? As it turns out, drinking water is one of the most regulated things in Germany. The German government released a water ordinance (Trinkwasserverordnung) in 2001 with stringent regulations for tap water. Due to the high regulations on tap water, no hard chemicals such as chlorine or fluoridation are used to purify it.
The water in Germany is so good that you can drink it from any of the faucets in your home: bathroom, kitchen, heck you can even drink water while you shower ?.
A study done by the German Association of Local Utilities, where they surveyed around 10,000 people, found that almost 93% of Germans drink tap water. 84% of Germans rate the quality of the drinking water as ‘very good’ or ‘good’.
Even though a lot of Germans drink tap water, some refuse to do so for different reasons. Different regional offices try to break the myths Germans might have of tap water. Once I saw a stand in the city center of Bonn offering free water. Their point was to promote the excellent quality of tap water in the region.
Depending on the region where you live in Germany, the water might taste different. Of course, the taste is subjective to each person; however, it also has to do with the amount of minerals in the water.
The more minerals the tap water has, the harder it is. The common minerals tap water in Germany has are calcium and magnesium. The calcium in the water is known as limescale.
It is not unhealthy to drink limescale. On the contrary, if you have low calcium levels, drinking tap water with high limescale amounts in it might help you increase your calcium intake.
🔥 Tip: To ensure you always get the tastiest water from your tap, let it run for a few seconds until the water feels cold. This will guarantee that you drink the freshest water.
The downside of tap water with a lot of limescale in it is not only the taste, but the damage it can cause to tea kettles, pots, or coffee makers. Many Germans use a water filtration system to reduce the amount of limescale in the water. Filtered water is safer to use in kitchen appliances.
At home, I use a water filter called Brita. It holds a bit over two liters of water, and I need to change the filter once every 1.5 months or so.
Some people have high concerns about drinking lead in their tap water in Germany. Lead can be especially dangerous for pregnant women and children. According to an article by Germany’s central environmental authority (Umwelt Bundesamt), lead pipes can only be found in buildings that were built before 1973.
If you have concerns about the types of metals in your drinking water, you can consult your local health organization (Gesundheitsamt) or your landlord. It is your right in Germany to have high-quality drinking water in your home.
Here is a video of a German YouTuber explaining thoroughly the tap water in Germany. The video is in German, but you can easily turn on the English subtitles by clicking on settings > subtitles > auto-translate.
Be aware that there are some places in Germany where you should not drink the tap water. For example, the water that comes from the tap in the bathrooms of trains or fountains. The places where you should not drink the tap water will be marked with a sign or with the words ‘No drinking water’ or ‘Kein Trinkwasser’.
We can all help to maintain the good quality of water in Germany. It is important to not pollute the water unnecessarily by throwing medicine, paint residues, or other chemicals down the toilet or drain.
You can easily dispose properly of everything in Germany. You can read our guide on how to separate trash in Germany for more information about that.
Final thoughts on tap water in Germany
I think it is a privilege we have in Germany to be able to just turn on the tap and drink the water. This is not possible in Guatemala, where I’m from.
I personally love to drink tap water because it tastes great, and I reduce my plastic consumption by not buying bottled water.
So if you are in Germany, grab yourself a fresh glass of water and enjoy drinking one of the cleanest tap waters in the world! 💦