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 legit questions, if you live in or planning to travel to Singapore. And the answer is yes, you can drink tap water in Singapore. According to official sources Singapore is one of the few countries where the tap water is safe for drinking, alongside Hong Kong, Brunei, Israel, South Korea, and Japan.
But there are still risks to be aware of when it comes to tap water and especially bottled water in Singapore.
In this article we will cover some of the most common questions including if Singapore tap water is safe to drink, safety of bottled water in Singapore and the best water filter for Singapore? Keep on reading to find the answers to these questions and much more.
Where Does Tap Water in Singapore Come from?
Historically Singapore has been very dependent on Malaysia for the water supply. Therefore Singapore has invested considerable amounts of money and resources into creating alternative sources of water.
50 years ago, Singapore had only two water sources and 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 from Malaysia, 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. The country has also invested significantly in innovative technology that recycles the waste water to be used again. Find out more information here.
What Are the Water Quality Monitoring Practices in Singapore?
PUB which is the local water supplier is regulated by 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. Every day water samples are taken from reservoirs, distribution systems, and waterworks and tested in specialized laboratories. Singapore is monitored by online sensors as well. This happens at each individual stage of the treatment process. 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?
According to the 2018 water supply regulation the Environmental Public Health (EPH) is responsible for the drinking and waste water in Singapore. The quality standards for Singapore tap water were established according to the WHO guidelines for drinking water.
The official authorities always work towards ensuring that the standards for the tap water quality are met. They monitor and audit the water from PUB. If you want to find out more information concerning Singapore tap water, check this source.
Is Singapore tap water safe to drink?
Yes, generally tap water in Singapore is safe for drinking. But on occasions, one might encounter poor tasting water due to chlorination or discolored water.
The chlorination is necessary to keep the water safe from pathogens (bacteria and viruses). But when chlorine mixes with organic compounds it may cause the water to taste bad. As Singapore has 4 different water sources the taste may change over time depending on where the water comes from.
The most common causes of discolored water is old pipes and maintenance operations, including the flushing of service pipes or the routine cleaning of water tanks. 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 corroded service water pipes and fittings. An affordable water filter will ensure that this doesn’t affect your health.
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). TAPP is available to buy from Shopee, Redmart and Lazada. This will cost you as little SD$100 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.
Read more about how water filters work.
Is Bottled Water in Singapore Safer?
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/5233546960
Even if Singapore tap water is safe, the demand for bottled water keeps growing. According to official data, in 2015 alone, consumers spent more than $134 million on bottled water, which was 24 percent more than they spent in 2010. Concurrently, there are at least 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. There is also distilled water, which some people consider “cleaner”. 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. Other people choose another option: that of home delivery of big water buckets.
There is no scientific evidence that bottled water is safer or healthier than tap water.
Concerns about bottled water in Singapore
There are many concerns regarding bottled water in Singapore and the rest of the world. In spite of this, people mistrust tap water and prefer bottled water instead.
These are the top 5 issues with bottled water:
1. Regulation and Safety
The bottled water industry is less regulated and monitored than your tap water which undergoes hundreds of thousands of lab tests every year. Most bottled water is only audited and tested a couple of times per year.
AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore) that regulates and monitors bottled water requires name of the product (mineral water, distilled water, etc) and the country of origin. However, it doesn’t require the water source or water content to be included on the label.
3. Microplastics and other contaminants
Tests by Orb Media and other labs around the world have found considerable amounts of microplastics, hormones and other contaminants in bottled water. In fact, the average bottled water consumer drinks about 1 credit card of plastics every 2 weeks. These issues have just recently been uncovered and we don’t yet understand or know the impact on the human body.
Another problem is that in Singapore recycling is still poor despite recent efforts. Roughly 80 percent of people aren’t sure regarding the types of plastics that can be recycled. This means that much of the plastic is treated as general waste. Bottled water therefore causes a lot of unnecessary waste.
Read more about the carbon footprint of bottled water.
5. Bottled water is expensive
You may not realise it but bottled water often costs 400x more than tap water and 100x more than filtered water. The average household in Singapore spends more than 800 Singapore dollars per year on bottled water. Maybe you could do something better with this?
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. You can find TAPP on Lazada, Redmart and Shopee.
Should tourists drink bottled water in Singapore?
No, since there is no given evidence that bottled water is safer. Tap water in Singapore undergoes several processes in order to ensure that it is safe.
However, there might be one exception to the rule. If you’re staying in a very old building that hasn’t been renovated for 30+ years then this could 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, tourists should drink tap water.
- Tap water in Singapore is safe to drink for residents and visitors. There might be isolated cases of discolored water
- If you don’t like the taste, have concerns about the pipes in your building or microplastics then installing an affordable water filter in Singapore such as TAPP 2 is a good safety measure
- Avoid bottled water – there is no scientific evidence that bottled water in Singapore is better and healthier than tap water
- If you’re planning to visit Singapore in the foreseeable future, you shouldn’t worry about the tap water – it is safe.