Why filter water (again)?

There are many reasons to filter water. On the one hand, it can contain ingredients that lead to clouding or contamination, impair the taste / smell and generally the enjoyment. It could also contain harmful substances or pathogens. The word “again” in brackets refers to the fact that most consumers obtain their tap water from a drinking water supplier, where it has already been cleaned and treated in the waterworks. However, firstly, the drinking water supplier only takes into account the approximately 50 most important ingredients in water treatment, which are explicitly named in the German Drinking Water Ordinance and set for the limit values. Secondly, the drinking water then travels a distance of mostly several kilometers in the public network and then in the network of your own home before it is consumed. New impurities can be added along this long path. But there are also consumers who source their drinking water decentrally from their own wells. The current ingredients are mostly completely unknown or are rarely monitored. In order to be able to ensure an optimal drinking water quality, filtering before consumption is therefore obvious.

Main reasons

  • It is contaminated by taste-disturbing organic substances, so you may not like it.
  • It is contaminated by many substances that are NOT covered by the Drinking Water Ordinance. Such as residues of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, asbestos fibers, microplastics, industrial chemicals, and much more.
  • It is contaminated by bacteria that slipped through during processing or were introduced later. There are press releases of water contaminated with bacteria almost every week, residents are asked to boil their water often for several weeks.
  • It is contaminated by heavy metals such as lead or copper, which have accumulated in the water on the way through old water pipes to your tap.

Drinking Water Ordinance (TrinkwV)

The original version of the Drinking Water Ordinance dates from 2001, but has since been revised and supplemented several times, most recently in early 2018. In view of new medical knowledge and improved test methods, the regulations for ensuring drinking water quality in Germany have been gradually renewed in recent years. The task of the TrinkwV is to ensure and improve the quality of drinking water in Germany. The TrinkwV is based on the EU Drinking Water Directive and the German Infection Protection Act. It defines the quality of drinking water with regard to human health as follows (paragraph 37 section 1): “Water for human use must be designed in such a way that drinking or

The Drinking Water Ordinance regulates the quality of drinking water, its treatment, the obligations of water suppliers and the monitoring of drinking water. Reference is made to generally recognized rules of technology as well as national and international standards for the professional production, treatment and distribution of drinking water. If water suppliers and in the further course also landlords / house owners verifiably observe these technical regulations and notes, they ensure to a sufficient degree that “the drinking water arriving at the consumer meets the requirements of the Drinking Water Ordinance”.

But does this also mean that the tap water reaches the consumer in perfect condition? This is controversial. The Drinking Water Ordinance (TrinkwV) is divided into chemical, microbiological and radiological requirements with binding limit values for a number of around 50 possible pollutants. The drinking water is constantly checked and processed accordingly in the approximately 6,000 waterworks in Germany. In practice, the treated water is considered drinkable and digestible. You keep reading that German drinking water is the most controlled food with excellent quality.

Through industry, agriculture, environmental influences and us humans, more and more pollutants enter the water cycle that are not regulated and checked at all by the TrinkwV. In addition to the 50 controlled pollutants, there are a large number of other ingredients that nobody monitors, including fertilizers, corrosion and plant protection agents, trihalomethanes, asbestos and residues of medicinal products, hormones, plasticizers, viruses and heavy metals.

Up to 100,000 impurities and pollutants can occur in our drinking water. Renowned institutes and analysts such as Ökotest, Stiftung Warentest, Frontal 21, etc. regularly detect dangerous ingredients and pathogens in German drinking water. The EU has threatened Germany to pay fines for having too high concentrations of fertilizer residues in the drinking water in some regions.

Industrial water / process water

Commercial water is water that was not supplied by public drinking water supplies or whose suitability as drinking water for human use is not available or has not been proven (rainwater, greywater). Commercial water includes all water that is used for purposes such as flushing the toilet, pouring water or washing clothes. Commercial water is not subject to the Drinking Water Ordinance, but should meet certain hygienic standards. In order to reduce drinking water consumption, it sometimes makes sense to set up a separate utility water supply when building or modernizing houses.

From waterworks to faucets

The Drinking Water Ordinance does not apply here and conventional house entrance filters only remove larger dirt particles (such as sand) from the water. We therefore recommend a filter for drinking water directly at the point of use, i.e. just before it is consumed.

Transport and dangers in the distribution network

Every citizen consumes around 127 liters of water a day (as of the end of 2018). This means that we use the least water in a European comparison. There are more than 6,000 public drinking water providers in Germany, and more than 90% of the water supply is in local hands. After being treated in the waterworks, drinking water has traveled many kilometers before it flows out of the tap. 50 kilometers and more can lie between the waterworks and the household.

The distribution network in this country is estimated to be over 500,000 kilometers long. All German water pipes at the equator would be connected around the earth more than eleven times. Around 5,000 million cubic meters of drinking water flow through water pipes in Germany every year – in liters this is a “5” with 12 zeros. More than 99% of the population in Germany are connected to a public drinking water network.

“The drinking water that is treated in the waterworks reaches the water tap of the consumer via a sometimes very complex water distribution system. In this way, the water comes into contact with a variety of different materials and components. These can release substances into the drinking water that change the smell or taste of the drinking water, have health relevance or lead to an increase in microorganisms and thus possibly also pathogens. “

Drinking water experiences a more or less strong change in its composition due to the distribution to consumers on fixed lines. This change in the water composition after treatment is based on interactions with surfaces in contact with water, such as. B. pipe materials, both in the public distribution networks (problems: iron, asbestos cement, biofilms). The demands on the treatment technology have increased in recent years because the distribution networks have grown and with it the longer periods of time for the treated drinking water from the waterworks to the consumer. In addition to pathogens, toxic chemical substances also play a role in drinking water.

A few years ago, microbiologists assumed that the amount of germs from public supply networks was manageable, and it is now known that drinking water at the point of transfer from the public city water network to a building contains between 40,000 and 200,000 germs per milliliter. Most of these bacteria come from natural sources. But even in the distribution network on the way to the consumer, with every milliliter of water from the city network, up to 200,000 germs get into the pipe networks of buildings. In addition to the type of raw water, the length of the pipes between the waterworks and the consumer also plays a role in the degree of contamination. Temperature and nutrient supply are decisive for the multiplication of microorganisms.

Old pipes in the house

Another factor that affects the quality of drinking water is its branching. The pipe system is branched with dead pipes and undergoes extension and conversion wherever required. This also includes the concern of water stagnation in pipes which are rarely used. Stagnant water poses a bigger threat, i.e., if the water remains there in the pipeline for long, it is more likely to come in contact with different particles and absorbs some of them. You may find the traces of nickel flowing through rarely used taps.

Bacteria like legionella look for an optimal temperature of around 20 degrees to grow. In lukewarm water, bacteria multiply at a quick pace as it provides them favorable conditions. Be it an old building with a bad insulation or a hot water pipe, dangers can’t be neglected. To notice this, you need to turn on the cold water tap and check if you are getting hot water from it initially or not. 

Drinking water hygiene

Maintaining good standards of drinking Hygienic is as vital for personal hygiene. Access to clean drinking water is the right of every human; however, it is still taken for granted all across the world.

Hygiene focuses on prevention from disease and is usually associated with cleanliness to maintain health. In 1892, Germany experienced a serious cholera epidemic that spread out in Hamburg consequently leading to 8,000 deaths; this proposed the emergence and importance of drinking water hygiene. Thereafter, research done by Robert Koch revealed the connection between poor wastewater disposal, the presence of pathogens in water and poor drinking water. This led to the ideation and establishment of Drinking Water Treatment Plant laid with strict hygienic and regulatory requirements.

In Germany, water for an estimate of 90% of consumers is sourced from public drinking water network, this makes this network important. Domestic installation, condition of the drinking water network and careful water treatment, etc. comes under it to make it accountable for drinking water hygiene. Drinking water contains organic substances in a considerable number; it could be both toxic and non-toxic microorganisms. This poses a question on the sterilization of drinking water. In few cases, water remains stagnant in pipes ad heats up for a period and due to this, microorganisms multiply. Old pipes damage over a period of time and cause heating in the pipe to make it unhygienic. Also, studies show that the public sector drinking water installation fails to meet these hygienic and regulatory requirements. Therefore, re-treatment of water at the point of final extraction would be the simplest and most suitable option. Alb water filters work efficiently to remove all possible impurities from water and are a cost-effective alternative.

Healthy tap water?

Waterworks are deemed responsible to supply drinking water all around, drinking water is considered to be healthy only if it is free from contamination and does not harm humans. Besides, choosing between tap water and bottled mineral water has always been a difficult choice for consumers.

According to the Federal Environment Agency, tap water in Germany is the most strictly controlled foodstuff and is of excellent quality. The German Drinking Water Ordinance has certain pre-defined stringent limit values with a list of about 50 different ingredients. Nevertheless, this list has been criticized by environmental associations on the fact that it excludes various other chemical and microbiological contaminations in tap water. This includes microplastics, hormones, fertilizers, plasticizers, drug residues, pesticides, etc. These impurities remain there in the water and are not treated in waterworks.

People prefer bottled water over tap water considering it to be free from impurities as it is extracted from underground at great depths; it contains least or no contaminants. Nevertheless, it can be detected for germs, pollutants, and residues of pesticides which are frequently found in it. Additionally, straight plastic bottled water can contain traces of plasticizers and microplastic. Alb Filter's filter solutions can be an ideal and reliable treatment method at the point of extraction.

Cost aspect

Germany is committed to ensure the supply of quality drinking water all across and is believed to source out the safest tap water as water is one of the most controlled beverages in Germany. When it comes to costing, tap water is way reasonable than bottled drinking water, however, it varies from city to city as the prices are controlled at the local level and are based upon region and supplier. On an average, EUR 2.36 was charged for a cubic meter of water, i.e. 1,000 litres in 2019 (including sewage charges). Other basic charges of around 0.4 cents/per litre are charged by the utility companies. Upon comparing the cost of tap water and bottled water, it is found that bottled water is way expensive than tap water. The cheapest mineral water is sold at 13 cents per litre which is 30 times of tap water. Besides, renowned mineral water brands like Apollinaris at REWE charge 150 times more than tap water and cost around 60 cents per litre. Also, water is not something that you can do without, you need it every time you feel thirsty, but bottled water would be an expensive option. For instance, if you use additional filters for tap water at the point of extraction to get filtered water, it would not only prevent pollutants and germs but will be an affordable option for greater quantity. Alb Filter solutions ensure you quality and quantity altogether at affordable prices, far convenient from bottled water. Moreover, plastic packaging is harmful for the environment while tap water requires no such packaging or transportation unlike bottles water; it also cuts off the cost for packaging and transport.

Tap water versus mineral water

This is interesting to talk about, people think that both are alike, but the fact is that the bottled water is neither economical nor eco-friendly. Bottled water, if used on a larger scale, can be hazardous for the environment and even the whole ecosystem. You would hardly find bottled water in recyclable bottles or PET plastic bottles. The use of such bottles has reduced apparently from 90% to 40 % in the past 20 decades. On the contrary, Germany uses 21 billion disposable plastic bottles which in the long run would cause great misery to the place. Whether it’s Aldi and Lidl or a brand like Coca-Cola, they are readily switching to disposable bottles in Germany finding it easy to use. The disposal of plastic bottles is a burden on the environment as it takes around 500 years to decompose, quite a long period. Also, it affects the climate adversely and so the entire eco cycle. As with most plastic bottles, the production requires fossil raw materials like polyethylene and terephthalate, etc. throughout the process. According to a report from Deutsche Umwelthilfe, the production of 1.25 million tons of CO2 could be saved by using refillable bottles and new laws are released stating to increase the use of reusable bottles by 70 percent till 2021. In contrast, the use of tap water would prevent the level of Co2 to a great extent as tap water exudes a low CO2 footprint. A study done by ESU Services Institute shows that disposable mineral water bottles have an impact on environment 90 to 1,000-fold higher in comparison of tap water.