water in the modern world, even in many developed economies. For example, The New York Times reported “unsafe lead levels in tap water are not limited to Flint” and we have read about rocket fuel, lead and germs in tap water affecting millions of Americans. Headlines like these cause people to worry about their water supply but let’s try to dispel some of these fears, by listing the top 10 countries with the best water supply¹.
Water is such an important resource that affects people’s quality of life to such a degree that it is even something that is monitored for the OECD better life index². Clean water is a major factor for a clean environment too. The top 10 list in reverse order is²,³,⁴:
#10 New Zealand
New Zealand has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. It has its own advanced system of filtering water⁵. Water sources are well protected and strictly monitored all over the country. According to a report of the country’s Ministry of Health for 2013/14, only 1.3 percent of the population was served by inadequately monitored water¹.
Germany has stringent rules that protect their water supply. It also lets its citizens have access to information about how clean the water is¹. According to a recent survey 92% of Germans are happy with their water supply⁵.
Sweden is the best country on select water indicators performing particularly well in how it treats wastewater. It is able to do this because it has created some of the most sophisticated technologies to carry this out¹. Stockholm has a particularly good water supply as it is serviced by 2 water treatment facilities which use some of the newest technology³.
#7 United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has strict water regulations. It uses a decentralised system with independent inspections for each of the countries within the United Kingdom. They each produce a report every year¹. The EU drinking water directive and the advice of the World Health Organization are used as the basis for their water regulation ³. Scotland in particular has the highest quality water⁴.
Italy’s defragmented system led to bad overall standards but a law change in 1997 improved things. It now has good water quality again¹. The government regularly tests the water on the basis of hardness, pH levels, dry solids at 180 degrees, fluoride, sodium, chlorides, and nitrite. This ensures standards are kept high³. This means you can drink from the many public fountains in Italy, safe in the knowledge that the water will be clean.
Much of the water in Austria is from their lakes, rivers and aquifers in the mountains¹. High quality drinking water is mandatory under Austrian law⁴. The government controls the supply facilities and that is where 90% of Austrians get their water.
France still has some issues in the countryside with their water supply but overall it is of a high standard. France uses sophisticated technologies to treat and distribute their water to ensure it is safe and clean. Also 70% of its water supply is supplied by the private sector, which is doing a good job¹. They use lease contracts and special concessions to incentivise the private sector to take a role in the supply of clean water³.
Two thirds of Luxembourg’s water supply comes from underground aquifers. They ensure the quality of water by protecting selected surfaces particularly around pumping stations and in the 50-days zone. This zone is the area the water travels through to get to the pumping zones and it takes 50 days to travel the distance of this zone, hence the name¹. All their treatment facilities use ultrafiltration systems to treat their water, making it very high quality. The remainder of their water supply comes from 38 of the 71 springs they have in the countryside³,⁵.
Norway has a long history of valuing its water. It has a lot of rainfall with 1440 mm of rain falling every year, which is more than some rainforest countries for example Ivory Coast. They have relatively new water infrastructure with half of the pipes being installed between 1971 and 2000, despite being such a mountainous country with a low density dispersed population¹,⁶. The commercially available bottled water Voss even comes from the municipal water of southern Norway⁵.
The country with the best quality tap water is Switzerland! The reasons for this high quality are that people realised early on what a valuable commodity it is, their citizens and their politicians have both taken measures to protect their water as well as having a high level of average rainfall per year of 1537 mm, this refills their supplies naturally¹. They have lakes that are so clean that the water can be drunk directly from source⁵. Their tap water is the same quality as mineral water but is 500 times cheaper³.