Can I drink the tap water in Spain?

Can I drink the tap water in Spain? Water Quality in Spain?

Tap water in Spain

Before Spain joined the EU in 1986, the country was torn by the after effects of the civil war. Subsequently investments in infrastructure including tap water were lagging. Some cities like Madrid, Bilbao, Vigo and A Coruna have excellent tap water but others had limited regulation and sub standard filtration and quality testing.

In the coastal areas such as Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Malaga, Murcia and Cadiz you will therefore hear a lot of people tell you that they don't recommend drinking the tap water. One of the reasons is that tourists in the 60s to 80s did not drink the tap water and as Spaniards got wealthier they also switched to bottled water. Between 1986 and 2008 Spain received 21 billion euro in EU funding for water infrastructure. Today the country has some of the most advanced public water filtration and waste water management solutions in the world. 


So can I drink the water in Spain?

Yes, at least 99.5% of all public tap water in Spain is safe to drink according to international water quality standards. But there are issues such as taste, odor chlorine by-products, microplastics and local pipe contaminants. The water companies are obliged to provide frequent water quality reports and alert customers if there is any non-compliance. Therefore there is minimal risk of getting sick from bacteria in water from the tap, public drinking fountains, at restaurants, etc.

One challenge is that Spanish water providers (just like most other countries in the world) use chlorine to sterilize tap water (kill bacteria and viruses). For this reason, there can be a certain chemical taste to the water. It is not harmful but may be difficult to get use to. If you live near the coast, there is usually higher levels of minerals from rivers and groundwater in your tap water. Again, this is not dangerous, but the water will not taste as good. A more recent problems is microplastics found in more than 80% of all tap water in Europe. The microplastics come from plastics and plastic fibers that break down and leech into the water sources. We don't know the long term health implications of this but it's probably not good.

Because of these issues it can be a good idea to get a quality water filter such as TAPP to improve taste and protect from common contaminants. Read a more specific analysis of the tap water in other cities of Spain here: Alicante, Barcelona, Canary Islands, Ibiza, Mallorca, Malaga and Madrid or find out the safety and content of your local tap water based on postcode here. We will continue to publish research on tap water in Valencia, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Oviedo–Gijón–Avilés, Las Palmas, Murcia–Orihuela, Tenerife, Granada, Cartagena, Valladolid, San Sebastián, Taragona, Córdoba, Paplona, Santander and other cities over time.

Bottled water in Spain

There is no evidence that bottled water is safer or healthier. Actually quite the opposite. Therefore the main reason to drink bottled water is taste preference. Bottled water consumption in Spain grew from 74m litres in 1965 to over 5,000m in 2016. That's from about 74m glass bottles to around 6-8 billion plastic bottles in 2019. This has caused big issues in terms of plastic pollution as only about 30% gets recycled. The rest ends up on landfills and incineration plants. Unfortunately taste preference for bottled water has a big negative impact on the environment. 80% of Spaniard claim to recycle.

In reality that figure is somewhere between 30-50% but putting plastic in the recycle bin is no guarantee that it gets recycled. In fact only about 20% of plastic bottles produced in Spain are made of recycled plastics. The average bottled water consuming household in Spain spends about €320 per year. With a water filter like TAPP you can save €260 with clean tasty tap water straight from the tap. So whether you live or visit Spain avoid bottled water if you can.

Best tap water in Spain:

Burgos: being one of the most voted waters according to the OCU study, Burgos is ranked #1 in the ranking. The water is low mineralized, has very little lime and does not contain any type of contaminant.
San Sebastián: placed in second place, we can say that San Sebastián has very good hygiene parameters. It is also a weakly mineralized water which gives it very good organoleptic properties.
Gran Canaria: although we think about the use of desalination plants for an island like Gran Canaria, it turns out that the water is of high quality.

Worst tap water in Spain:

Ciudad Real: ranked as the city with the worst water of all. Recently there was a case in which the water was close to the limit of allowed trihalomethanes.

Palma de Mallorca: unlike the Palmas de Gran Canaria, Palma de Mallorca has low quality water in addition to poor hygiene and sanitation parameters.

Barcelona: Although the tap water in Barcelona is drinkable, it is considered one of the worst in Spain due to its bad taste. This is due to its high content of chlorine, salts and lime in general.

Tap water quality in your region

All water companies in the EU are obliged to provide public information on water quality. Each local provider has to report certified laboratory tests every 6 months, resulting in more than 40 million reports per year. To see where the water comes from in your area, when the last test was and results of the tests carried out, we suggest consulting the National Drinking Water Information System of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality (SINAC).

What is the best water filter for Spain?

Generally the tap water in Spain is safe to drink without a water filter. However, if you don't like the taste of the water or have concerns about the quality due to local infrastructure, pipes or microplastics then buy an affordable water filter. TAPP Water filters consistently rank as the best water filters in Spain. You can buy water filters in Spain on Amazon, in most home improvement stores and here.

Learn more about tap water where you live:

 Who regulates drinking water in Spain?

In Spain, drinking water, whether from public supply or from other sources, must comply with the standards established in the EU Directive (98/83/EC) on drinking water. It is the duty of each EU member state government to translate the requirements of the Directive into local legislation, which, as a minimum, must comply with the requirements of EU law. This is implemented through Royal Decree 140/2003 in Italy for judicial and health criteria for the quality of drinking water. The EU and Spanish standards are based on advice from the World Health Organization, through the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, which are regularly updated to take into account new knowledge.

How do I test my water to know the quality of the water in Spain?

Even if your local water company supplies drinking water, there is a risk that your water will become contaminated on the way to the tap. It may be due to old pipes or leaks. Therefore, you may want to test the water coming out of your faucet if you suspect there may be a problem. There are numerous drinking water quality control laboratories, both public and private. Under current legislation, the Ministry carried out an official census of drinking water control laboratories in Spain. You can check the list of laboratories on the Ministry's website. But first you must request a report from your water company.

Tap water in Spain: Conclusion

  • You can safely drink the tap water in Spain unless the local water company states otherwise.
  • If you don't like the taste of the water or you're worried about contamination from the pipes then get a water filter designed for Spain such as TAPP.
  • Faucet water filters like TAPP are portable so you can bring them back to your home country as well if you don't live in Spain permanently.
  • Avoid plastic bottled water if you can, as it's bad for the planet and generally a waste of money.
  • Look up your local tap water quality by postcode here

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