Can I drink the tap water in Mallorca? Where does it come from? Why does it taste so bad? What are the issues with Mallorca tap water? What’s the best water filter for Mallorca?
In this article we will attempt to answer all your questions about tap water in Mallorca. If you just want to short answer then jump straight to the conclusion at the end.
Where does tap water in Mallorca come from?
The climate of Majorca (or Mallorca) is Mediterranean, with mild winters with some rain and dry sunny summers. The sunny climate has its pros and cons with one negative aspect being that there is water shortage every summer / early fall. Currently, 55% of Palma's water is underground, 20% comes from reservoirs, 18% from water recycling and 7% from desalinated water (the Abaqua's facilities). Recent investments will increase the contribution from recycled and collected rain water to 25% annually. This will hopefully reduce the need for desalinated water and the extraction of water from wells.
The underground water coms from a series of aquifers with super porous limestone, so it picks up a ton of minerals. This makes the water relatively hard. The 2 biggest reservoirs on the other hand are rainfed which is relatively soft. They are located in the western mountain range, (the Cuber and the Gorg Blau).
When the aquifers and the reservoirs get low they switch on the desalination plants to augment their supplies. There are at least three desalination plants on the island, one each in Palma, Andratx, and Alcudia. They are most active in August and September due to the dry summer and the crush of tourists. Desalinated water still tastes a bit salty even though the levels are very low. Maybe the tolerance level for how much salt that can be allowed in public drinking water when there is a major shortage?
Palma will launch a new water treatment plant in 2022 to improve the recycling of waste water and taste.
How is Mallorca tap water regulated?
Tap water in Mallorca is regulated by the Spanish water authority that also has to conform to the EU Clean Drinking Water Act. The agency that looks after the tap water locally is ABAQUA. To reduce the risk of pathogens, the sanitary surveillance of water for human consumption in the Balearic Islands requires a minimum value of 0.2 mg / l free chlorine. To achieve this the actual free chlorine content is usually above 0.5 mg/L and sometimes as high as 1 mg/L. Tap water tastes of chlorine when it's above 0.4 mg/L.
The local authorities also report all water quality data to SINAC which is the centrally database in Spain that monitors tap water safety.
Is Mallorca tap water safe to drink?
If you ask the locals and residents if you can drink the tap water you will probably get answers such as:
- "You're crazy, it's terrible!"
- "It tastes bad and you are going to get kidney stones."
- or more elaborate "Do not even think about it! My grandfather / my father / my neighbor's uncle (choose the one that suits you) came out as a poor man selling stone from his kidneys to the crazy builders of the Mallorca highway."
Many people will look at you with disgust if you offer them tap water to drink in Palma.
But the true answer is that the tap water in Palma and most of Mallorca is safe to drink according to EU and Spanish standards.
The negative perception of tap water stems from three issues
- Water calcification / limescale - people are convinced that the calcium rich water causes kidney stones. This is an urban legend / myth as there is no scientific evidence that this is the case.
- Spanish tummy - Back in the 70s and 80s the tap water in Spain was not super reliable. Tourists in Spain frequently got “Spanish Tummy”, or travelers diarrhea, and people knew to avoid drinking tap water. This is no longer an issue as the water is treated and chlorinated.
- Taste - the mineral rich tap water sources combined with chlorine and desalination makes the water taste pretty bad. Especially if you are used to tap water in northern Europe or Madrid.
Today only 34% of the citizens of Palma (1 in 3) consume tap water on a regular basis. This includes directly from the tap or through faucet filters, jugs or osmosis systems.
Tap water in Palma de Mallorca
Yes, The water with which EMAYA supplies Palma de Mallorca and that reaches our houses has a total sanitary guarantee and can be used, without any problem, for drinking and cooking.
Due to the characteristics of the sources, the water that comes from the aquifers and other sources is usually hard highly mineralized water.
The hardness of water does not pose any health risk, quite the opposite: calcium and magnesium, which characterize the hardness of water, are essential for health. There are even several medical studies that indicate a protective role of calcium and magnesium against certain cardiovascular diseases.
Here’s the official site of EMAYA .
Tap water in Menorca
The tap water in Menorca that comes from the public water supply is generally safe to drink. If not the water supplier must inform the residents. Similar to Mallorca the taste and perception of the local tap water is very bad. Therefore almost everyone drinks bottled water.
Read more about the recent requirement for restaurants in Menorca to offer tap water. Almost all water is rain water of which there is not enough in Menorca so please don't waste it.
Where you cannot drink the tap water in Mallorca
There are still several areas of Mallorca in which the water that circulates through the public network is not suitable for drinking or cooking with it due to a high presence of nitrates. In the towns of Lloret, Sineu, s'Horta, Vilafranca and Costitx, its use is only authorized for washing and washing and it cannot be used for drinking or cooking. Boiling it doesn't help.
The high presence of nitrates in these municipalities is due to the abusive use of agricultural fertilizers with these nitrates in the past, an action that still carries these consequences.
Was the water filter jug invented in Mallorca?
Whether it's true or not there is also a local legend among the Germans that Brita Pitcher was invented after the founder tried to drink tea with water from a Mallorcan tap in the 60s. According to most sources the majority of Palma's inhabitants stopped drinking plain water in the 80s due to its 'bad taste' and probably because bottled water became cheap and accessible everywhere.
Best water filter for Mallorca
Although you can drink the tap water in Palma and most of Mallorca a water filter may be a great investment.
The benefits include saving money, convenience of always having access to clean tasty tap water, it’s healthier than bottled water, reduces limescale build up for your coffee maker or tea kettle and it’s better for the planet.
The best water filter for Mallorca in our biased view is TAPP 2. The advantages vs other filters are
- Designed in Spain and independently tested for the tap water along the coasts and Balearic Islands
- Super easy to install working on 95% of faucets out of the box and the rest through our free adapter service
- High flowrate (4l/min) for instant clean tasty tap water from the tap
- Eco friendly using 70% disposable plastic and 50% less CO2 footprint can any other water filter
- Reduces limescale by 80% or more
See more of the advantages in this Brita water filter comparison article.
Water fountains in Mallorca
Cleanwave is one of the great organisations in Mallorca promoting non-bottled water. Among other things they’ve helped to install water fountains with filtered water around Mallorca. Here’s one example.
Bottled water in Mallorca
The Balearic Islands is the second autonomous community that consumes the most bottled water in Spain, being the first position for the Canary Islands. This according to the data presented in the 2018 food consumption report of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
It is estimated that each Balearic Islands consumes 175 liters of bottled water per year, about 117 1.5-liter bottles, which represent an expense of 80 euros per year per person and the generation of 5 kilos of plastic. For the whole of Palma, there are about 2,000 tons of waste per year.
Palma has also recently installed more water fountains that include filters to remove the chlorine. There are two models, the normal ones and the ones that also have a spout so that the dogs can drink. Its purpose is that passersby can refill their reusable bottles.
Tap water in restaurants
You can safely drink tap water in restaurants in Mallorca although the taste might not be great. A recent law requires all restaurants in Mallorca to serve tap water to those who ask. But as it doesn’t require the restaurants to filter the water or to promote it this law is unlikely to have much impact.
Conclusion about tap water in Palma and Mallorca
- Generally it’s safe to drink the public tap water in Mallorca and Palma. The exception is a few villages up in the north and country side homes with wells.
- The taste of tap water in Palma and other cities is often bad due to a combination of hardness and chlorine
- TAPP Water provides affordable faucet water filter for Mallorca giving you tasty, clean and sustainable drinking water
- Avoid bottled water if you can as it’s bad for the planet and not better your health
- Bars, cafes and restaurants have to serve you tap water for free if you ask
If you have questions, comments or want to contribute to clean tasty tap water in Mallorca then please feel free to contact us.