Can I Drink Tap Water in Singapore? Do I need a water filter in Singapore? Should I drink bottled water as a visitor?
These are a legit questions, if you live in or planning to travel to Singapore. And the answer is positive: yes, you can drink tap water in Singapore. In fact, according to official sources, on the Asian continent, Singapore is one of the few countries where the tap water is safe for drinking, alongside Hong Kong, Brunei, Israel, South Korea, and Japan.
In spite of this, most people drink bottled water or boil their tap water before drinking it. But this isn’t because Singapore tap water is unsafe, but merely because this used to be a local practice, as, in the past, the tap water wasn’t safe to drink. There are also real concerns such as microplastics in the tap water and local issues with old pipes that leech heavy metals such as lead.
What should I know about the water monitoring guidelines in Singapore? Is there anything I should note when it comes to bottled water? Can I drink tap water in Singapore? Do I need a water filter in Singapore? Keep on reading to find the answers to these questions and much more.
Where Does Tap Water in Singapore Come from?
When it comes to Singapore’s water supply, Malaysia would be an important source of water for the country. Nonetheless, Singapore considered investing money and resources into creating alternative sources of water.
So, if 50 years ago, Singapore had only two water sources, now there are four official water sources that aim at keeping up with the estimated 400 million gallons a day Singapore consumes – namely, imported water, local catchment water, NEWater, and desalinated water.
Local catchment water plays a key part in supplying Singapore’s tap water, relying mainly on rainwater. Meanwhile, the imported water originates from the river Johor – in accordance with two bilateral agreements. At the same time, the country has invested significantly in innovative technology, which aims at purifying the water to make it safe for use. Find out more information here.
What Are the Water Quality Monitoring Practices in Singapore?
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PUB has settled specific and comprehensive guidelines regarding the monitoring of the tap water quality. These guidelines play a key role in ensuring that the water is safe to drink. To that end, on a regular basis, water samples are taken from reservoirs, distribution systems, and waterworks. In addition, they are thoroughly tested in specialized laboratories.
Furthermore, bear in mind that tap water in Singapore is monitored by online sensors as well. This happens at each individual stage of the treatment process. In essence, roughly 400,000 tests are carried out on an annual basis regarding organic, physical, microbiological, radiological and inorganic parameters.
Who Regulates the Quality of the Tap Water in Singapore?
The answer to this question is the Environmental Public Health (EPH), in lines with the 2018 regulations. Aside from that, the quality standards for Singapore tap water were established according to the WHO guidelines for drinking water.
At the same time, the official authorities always work towards ensuring that the standards for the tap water quality are respected. Hence, throughout an entire year, the tap water is monitored regularly and vigorously. If you want to find out more information concerning Singapore tap water, check this source.
What Is the Cause of Discolored Water?
So, we’ve established that tap water in Singapore is safe for drinking. Nevertheless, on occasions, one might encounter discolored water. What is the cause of this, though? One of the most common causes of discolored water is the problem with maintenance operations, including the flushing of service pipes or the routine cleaning of water tanks. Thus, the discoloration might be caused by the corrosion of the iron tank or of other components.
This could happen either due to quality issues or due to the end of the service life. Another common cause could be the corroded service water pipes and fittings.
How Can I Test that My Water Is Safe for Drinking?
It is actually a good idea to test your Singapore tap water. Fortunately, doing this is quite simple; you have to take out a sample and bring it to an authorized lab. Nonetheless, do note that the results might not be 100 percent reliable. That’s because, over the course of time, pipes might leak lead.
For example, today, the results might indicate traces of lead; but that might not be the case the following day.
Water filters for Singapore
How do I make sure my tap water is safe and tastes good in Singapore? The simplest option is an affordable easy to install faucet filter such as TAPP 2 (or other filters such as PUR and Culligan). This will cost you as little $60 USD per year and means that your tap water is safe from lead, microplastics and other pollutants from the pipes. Equally important it removes the chlorine making it taste just like most bottled water.
What Does the PUB Do in the Case of Discolored Water Incidents?
In case anything of the kind happens, then the PUB will take on the case and investigate the possible root of the problem. Afterward, according to their findings, emergency pipeline operations will be conducted so that the issue of further discoloration is addressed.
Furthermore, if the discoloration is due to the PUB’s water mains, then the customers will be provided with temporary water supply – water bags, for instance, to make up for the inconvenience caused. If the case is rather serious, then this might require deploying the water wagons. So, to solve the problem, the PUB will flush the water so that it clears up.
Nevertheless, if the reason behind the discolored water is due to a faulty or corroded tank, then the customer has to take the necessary measurements to rectify the issue.
Is Bottled Water in Singapore Safer?
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Even if Singapore tap water is safe, it seems that the appeal for bottled water is still there. According to official data, in 2015 alone, consumers spent no less than $134 million on bottled water, which was 24 percent more than they spent in 2010. Concurrently, there are approximately 12 different brands that sell bottled water in Singapore. But the question is, should you choose bottled water over tap water in Singapore?
According to experts, there are specific differences depending on the treatment of the water. Some might include specific minerals while others might not. For example, if you’re buying mineral water, this means the water is derived from underground sources. Hence, it contains small levels of minerals. There is also distilled water, which results after the distillation process. And finally, there is alkaline water, which is growing in popularity.
Many people in Singapore dislike the taste of tap water, which is why they prefer bottled water. Another reason that explains the people’s preference for bottled water has to do with the fact that they distrust the tap water, although it has been acknowledged to be safe. This is why they utilize expensive reverse osmosis water filters, which are not really necessary. Other people choose another option: that of home delivery of big water buckets.
Nonetheless, it is difficult to claim that one type of water is superior to another. Simultaneously, experts outline that tap water in Singapore is safe for drinking.
On a different note, in lines with a report released in 2001 by World Wildlife Fund International, bottled water isn’t necessarily safer than tap water. That’s specifically because there are fewer standards that must be respected.
Concerns about bottled water in Singapore
There are many concerns regarding the issue of bottled water in Singapore, granted that Singapore is one of the few countries in Asia that has access to safe tap water. In spite of this, people mistrust tap water and prefer choosing bottled water instead. But there are hidden marketing costs.
Expressly, the approximate worth for the bottled water market is of $134 million dollars. It is definitely odd that this industry is booming in a country whose tap water is safe to drink. At the same time, aside from the marketing expenses these producers have, there is also the cost of distribution; in order to gain recognition, brands have to distribute their product to various places.
All these costs are essentially passed down to the customer. With that said, though, bottled water is safe in Singapore – whether it is imported or locally packaged. That’s because it is regulated by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore’s routine surveillance. Nonetheless, as pointed out by the AVA, manufacturers of bottled water aren’t required to clearly label the source of the water. It must label the name of the product – which is distilled water or drinking water – as well as the country of origin.
Another problem is that, in Singapore, awareness regarding recycling is lacking. At the same time, many people are unaware of the specifications of recycling. Namely, roughly 80 percent of the people aren’t sure regarding the types of plastics that can actually be recycled, which means that much of the plastic is treated as general waste. To that end, it is evident that bottled water adds up to the issue of heavy plastic use, which can be avoided.
Do I need a water filter in Singapore?
If you don’t like the tap water tastes, have infants or young children or general concerns about health then it’s a great idea to use a water filter in Singapore. There are affordable water filters such as TAPP 2 that will keep you safe from any potential contaminants in Singapore tap water including microplastics, lead and chlorine by-products.
Should Tourists Choose Singapore Bottled Water over Singapore Tap Water?
Not necessarily, since there is no given evidence that bottled water is safer. At the same time, as we pointed out above, tap water in Singapore undergoes several processes in order to ensure that it is safe. However, there might be an exception to the rule. For instance, if you’re staying in a place that hasn’t been renovated recently, then this might mean that the plumbing is really old, which could increase the likelihood of discolored water. In this situation, perhaps it would be a good idea to choose bottled water over tap water in Singapore.
Aside from this, in order to diminish plastic pollution, perhaps tourists should consider drinking tap water instead, considering that it is safe.
To summarise the answer
- Tap water in Singapore is safe to drink for residents and visitors. There might be isolated cases of discolored water, which are usually addressed right away by PUB. But in many cases, the cause of discolored water could be due to an outdated or poorly maintained plumbing system.
- If you are concerned about the pipes in your building or microplastics then installing an affordable water filter in Singapore such as TAPP 2 is a great safety measure
- There is no scientific evidence indicating that bottled water in Singapore is better and healthier than tap water. Avoid bottled water if you can as the CO2 footprint and and waste is inexcusable from an environmental perspective.
- If you’re planning to visit Singapore in the foreseeable future, you shouldn’t worry about the tap water – it is safe.
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