Yes, you can drink the tap water in the Barcelona but how good is it really for your health? Many locals and visitors typically comment:
“Have you tasted and smelled it?”
So what’s the truth? Are there any risks and what can you do to improve quality and taste? The short answer is that although there may be some risks with drinking tap water but bottled water is worse. Find out why below and what is the best alternative.
Where does the tap water in Barcelona come from?
Tap water in Barcelona comes from two rivers, Ter and Llobregat. In addition to this Barcelona has one of Europe’s largest desalinization plants with a capacity of up to 20% of the cities demand. The salt water plant was constructed after the water shortage back in 2008 in Barcelona but not used much since it’s expensive to operate.
Llobregat, which makes up the majority of the water has high levels of minerals, including potassium, magnesium and carbonates because it crosses an extremely salty region around Súria. If you drink Llobregat water before Súria, it tastes pretty good but it’s very salty afterwards. In addition to this a lot of pollution enters it from industries and farm land along the river. The water company removes all the pollutants and most of the salt with osmosis but that’s an expensive treatment. This combines with high levels of chlorine to protect the water from contamination in the way to your tap is the main reason for the poor taste.
So can I drink tap water in Barcelona?
Based on the water regulators and general consensus of the scientific community definitely yes. But it’s true that it tastes and smells poorly.
WWF sums it up in their travel guide: “it’s drinkable but not known for its taste.”
Many people therefore choose bottled water due to taste preference but as you will find out below this could actually be worse.
According to General de Sanidad (the government agency that looks after the tap water in Spain) and Aigües de Barcelona (the local water company) it’s potable (drinkable) according to all international standards including the EU and WHO.
We’ve heard anecdotal evidence that people arriving to Barcelona from places with better water had bad stomachs (light diarrhoea) the first couple of months. However there is no scientific research on this but it’s possible that it’s a problem for people with sensitive stomachs.
Two other potential issues are local contaminants from pipe corrosion as this not tested by the government and microplastics that have been found in over 80% of all tap water in Europe.
One of best alternative for safe and high quality drinking water is therefore the affordable water service of OSMOSYS. This will give you better tasting water, save money, provide drinking water from the tap whenever you need and reduce plastic waste.
Is bottled water safer?
It definitely tastes better but there are actually more official reports of people getting sick from bottled water than the tap water. One recent incident from 2016 where thousands of people got sick from contaminated bottled water.
In addition to this the plastic from the bottles may be bad for you and it’s horrible for the environment. According to recent research microplastics were found in 93% of all bottled water.
Another issue is that although 80% of Spanish households claim to recycle the reality is that less than 50% of plastic bottles get recycled and less than 20% of new bottles are made out of recycled plastic. Furthermore the production and recycling process are bad for the environment and transportation of bottled water has a high carbon footprint.
- Tap water in Barcelona is drinkable even if it doesn’t taste great
- For better taste and to remove possible contaminants use an affordable water service such as the one from Osmosys (more information here)
- Avoid bottled water if you can as it is bad for the planet, your wallet and not healthier