Our tap water

What does tap water in Germany look like?

Drinking water in Germany is best-monitored water, is it really so? Let’s give it a check and see what flows through Germany’s faucets.

Condition of Drinking Water in Germany

Drinking water in Germany is subjected to strict legal controls and is treated as the best- monitored beverage/food. Waterworks in Germany supply high-quality water. The treatment procedure depends upon limit values for pollutants as suggested by the Drinking Water Ordinance. This ordinance covers limit values of 50 chemical, microbiological, and radiological pollutants that need to be maintained and monitored by the waterworks. However, the relevance of this standard is questionable as it excludes a long list of pollutants that can cause great harm if consumed. These 50 pollutants are just a fraction while the whole series of pollutants is nowhere mentioned in this Ordinance.

Now, when it comes to the treatment of drinking water, it depends upon a lot many aspects, including technical support, health issues, political interference, and cost aspect. Also, the old and outdated buildings are supported by an aged pipeline network that requires renovation. These pipelines may provide a breeding ground for germs and bacteria to pose a number of health issues.

Definition of healthy water

Public water suppliers are responsible to supply clean and healthy drinking water to all its consumers. With healthy water, we mean quality drinking water that will do no harm to the population. However, constantly increasing environmental pollution is degrading the quality of water beyond its recovery limit. In addition, the presence of toxins and pollutants can harm humans to a great extent leading to severe disease. All this is the result of a lack of properly analyzed limit values and dawdling legislation failing to provide the necessary support. Legislation monitors the contamination of drinking water for germs, pesticides, and heavy metals while ignoring pollutants like drug residues, hormone-like substances, and parasites.

 

Waterworks rely upon upgraded treatment processes, but due to inappropriate equipment, pollutants remain there in the water. The lack of access to modern-day technology leads to contaminated water supply to the consumers. Studies indicate that more than half of small drinking water supplies in Germany don’t even follow limit values for faecal germs.

Loose and ineffective Environmental Laws

Tap water is used more often than not, and hence it should be free from impurities & germ and should not pose any health risk to its consumers. To control all this, the German Drinking Water Ordinance has pre-defined limit values for certain pollutants, following which would minimize the risk.

 

Upon the addition of new pollutants or new evidence of side effects, these limit values should be updated. The Federal Environment Agency claims that supplied water meets all the guidelines and the limit values as issued by the Drinking Water Ordinance. The Drinking Water Ordinance has mentioned limit values for 50 different substances. However, some ingredients are not listed under this Ordinance, including microplastics and pesticides, drug residues, etc.

Irrelevant And Untimely Analysis

Approaching outdated methods of monitoring pollutants would lead to inaccurate analyses, thus worsening the conditions. As per the Drinking Water Ordinance, pollutants in drinking water are detected using a 100 years old smear method, the relevance of which can’t be guaranteed. Also, 0.1 – 1% of bacteria tend to form colonies to count using smear.

  

 However, modern-day methods like flow cytometry have shown that the concentration of germs can be higher than expected in tap water. These high-resolution analytical methods are highly practical and dependable. Studies performed in Munich show that drinking water supply flushes 8,000 and 100,000 germs per ml. This water contains a mixture of harmful bacteria, pathogens, organisms, pseudomonas, along with nutrients and other dissolved organic components such as nitrates, phosphates. These pollutants take over the pipe network and become a breeding home of germs and pathogens to lead for an unbridled upsurge.

Multiplication of germs in the building

Even though the water suppliers process the supply within the limit value, it should be understood that the water pipe network of buildings provides an optimal environment for germs to let them procreate. Old buildings or damaged pipelines are most susceptible to germs, and thus can contaminate the water. The aged the pipe network, the more risk of damage and contamination; this poses the need for instant renovation and pipeline fixtures. Stagnant pipelines, broken seals, galvanized lead pipes, and aged copper pipes are at high risk to become a breeding ground for these germs, and can contaminate the water to threaten humans. It could be due to favorable growth conditions and increased release of pollutants. 

 

These pollutants are silent guests, which can directly affect your life by posing health risks and can be responsible for a number of diseases. Rather than depending upon others, one should look for preventive measures on one’s own. For this, one needs to ensure access to clean drinking water at the point of withdrawal only.

Updated drinking water rules by European Parliament

European Parliament passed a decision in October 2018, which aimed at supporting consumers’ confidence in tap water by implementing necessary measures. It included monitoring of microplastic and improved limit values of pollutants such as bacteria, hormones (endocrine disruptors), lead, etc. However, this revision excluded certain high-risk pollutants; moreover, the implementation of new limit values is quite tough to monitor.

Updated measures help in recognizing rust, dirt particles, and turbidity along with the taste and odor of chlorine. It shows that our tap water used in bath and kitchen has a high lime portion and the smell and taste of chlorine, particularly in old buildings. 

The water cycle: How water gets polluted?

Water is an indispensable part of life; the supply chain of water flows in a natural way, be it rainwater or groundwater. Water contains all from pollutants to nutrients and minerals that dissolve in water and soil. Groundwater contains residues of pesticides, fertilizers, and minerals dissolved in the soil, and rainwater contains residues of animal excreta and industrial fumes, all this worsens the quality of water. When it comes to drinking water, a range of impurities remain uninspected by waterworks. Old pipelines and pipe network degrades the water quality further.  

 

Nutrients Present In Drinking Water

Water serves as an essential component of the body. Our body needs nutrients for effective functioning of cells, tissues, organs, and nearly all main body functions. It also supports the nervous system and helps in strengthening bones and joints. Here, nutrients can be divided into trace elements and macrominerals. Our body requires Macrominerals such as sodium in larger quantity and trace elements like copper in smaller quantity. In general, drinking water doesn’t contain a sufficient amount of nutrients that are needed by our body, and hence these are supplied to the body through food.

  

 

Noteworthy point: Too much intake of nutrients like copper may damage the organs and especially of children and infants. Thus, the limit value for each nutrient should follow The Drinking Water Ordinance.

Impurities in Water

In this era where potable water is hardly available, even public water suppliers can’t guarantee you drinkable water as impurities lurk from behind. Infinite number of impurities are always present in the water, all of which can’t be treated or removed. We consume a considerable amount of water throughout our life, while the presence of impurities even in the smallest amount can damage our body significantly. Ingesting these impurities over a long period of time can cause great harm to the human body. All this puts a question mark on the quality of water that is being supplied by waterworks and their reliability also. 

Drinking water in Germany

Drinking water is the best sourced out water that is suitable for drinking and will not cause any harm. However, the presence of impurities makes the water harmful and lowers down its quality to be regarded as “fit for drinking”. Water Impurities whether dissolved solids or suspended solids can bring about a negative impact on living organisms, animals, plants, and humans.

 

Considering the legal framework and guidelines of the Drinking Water Ordinance, impurities in domestic taps can range from chemical to radiological and microbiological components. Thus, our drinking water not only contains health-promoting nutrients but disease-causing pollutants. This includes microplastics, pesticides, and other plant protection products, pharmaceutical residues, heavy metals, and other microorganisms. For a safer side, these substances should not even enter the human body.

 

Taking the relevance of The Drinking Water Ordinance into account, it can be said that it enlisted limit values for 50 pollutants whose temporary and lasting effects are researched and known. However, its irrelevance can be counted with pollutants like microplastics drug residues that are not even mentioned in it. Also, none can deny that these pollutants are human and should be filtered using a separate activated carbon filter.