Dutch tap water is of the highest quality. Dutch people use around 120 litres of tap water per day to shower, flush the toilet and do their laundry and dishes. Dutch tap water is of such good quality that it is also clean and safe to drink. In order to guarantee this high quality, drinking water companies use a number of different purification phases. Thanks to effective and innovative purification, no chlorine has to be added to water in the Netherlands and the drinking water also has a nice taste.
The drinking water that comes out of taps in the Netherlands is subject to strict checks. The drinking water companies execute a statutory measuring programme to monitor drinking water quality. They measure the quality at the entry point, during purification, after the final purification phase, and at various points in the distribution network. The standards for the quality of the purified drinking water are laid down in law in the Drinking Water Decree.
The quality of the sources used to produce our drinking water are also monitored. The state and decentralised government bodies are responsible for the good quality of ground and surface water. In the Netherlands approximately 60% of the drinking water is produced from groundwater and 40% from surface water. The quality of the sources is insufficient and that means that extra purification is necessary by the drinking water companies. The purification process used by the drinking water companies is made up of a number of different phases which are adapted to the source they use. This guarantees the excellent quality of the drinking water.
Clean drinking water
People use tap water to drink and to cook food. That is why it is important to produce good quality tap water.
The sources for tap water may contain microorganisms or chemical substances which can make people ill. For that reason drinking water companies purify the water they receive, for example using sand and carbon filters, aeration, flocculents and illumination with UV light.
The hardness of the water is an indication of how much calcium and magnesium the water contains. Hard water is not unhealthy. However, it can cause problems due to the creation of mineral deposits when the water is heated. Devices like kettles, washing machines and shower heads then have to be cleaned more frequently.
The various drinking water sources, such as ground, surface and dune water have differing degrees of hardness. However, hard drinking water is only found in a couple of areas in the Netherlands because water companies almost always soften the water centrally if the raw water is excessively hard.
Known and new contamination
The quality of the drinking water is monitored intensively. It has to comply with strict standards. The statutory quality requirements for drinking water are laid down in the Drinking Water Decree.
More and more new substances are being developed for use in, for example, the agricultural or chemical industry. In addition, technological developments in recent years have made it possible to measure ever smaller concentrations of chemical substances in drinking water sources. This means that new types of contamination are being discovered more and more frequently in drinking water sources. A recent example of the so-called emerging substances or micro-pollutants are medicine residues. However, the presence of medicine residues in drinking water sources does not constitute a risk to public health at this point in time. Drinking water companies, universities, research institutes and the government are busy doing research to establish the best way of dealing with micro-pollutants, for example by protecting drinking water sources and, if necessary, drawing up additional standards.
Together with companies, hospitals, water boards and other chain partners, measures are taken when necessary to keep the sources clean. As a result, the parties involved will be able to continue ensuring that Dutch tap water can be drunk safely in the future as well. If these measures do not produce the right result, extra purification plants will have to be constructed.
Drinking water companies
There are ten drinking water companies in the Netherlands. Their responsibility is to provide clean tap water. They do so by extracting groundwater or surface water, purifying it and delivering it to customers via a network of pipes.
Protecting drinking water sources
The provincial governments, water boards, Rijkswaterstaat and drinking water companies are responsible for protecting drinking water sources: groundwater and surface water.
A water extraction area is the area in the immediate vicinity of a groundwater source. At the edge of the area are blue signs indicating the presence of a water extraction area. In water extraction areas activities which are damaging for the drinking water, such as discharges and the use of fertilisers and pesticides, are banned.
Water extraction areas are often nature reserves as well. A clean environment means clean ground and surface water. The parties responsible for protecting drinking water sources jointly manage approximately 20,000 ha of nature reserves and 120,000 ha of groundwater protection areas. Wherever possible these areas are open to the public.
Dutch tap water is some of the best in the world. You can save a lot of money by drinking tap water. For one euro you can drink water all year round if you assume that someone drinks 1.5 litres per day. Bottled water will cost between 150 and 500 times more. On top of this, tap water is hundreds of times better for the environment than bottled water and all other bottled drinks.
Make sure that the soil and the surface water do not become polluted, certainly in water extraction areas. If there is something wrong with the water, you should report this to the government body responsible. This can be done via Meldpunt Water.