Almost 100 percent of German households are connected to the public water supply and have access to safe sanitary facilities. Consumer protection is a top priority in this country, which is why drinking water is subject to continuous strict controls.

The high quality standard is regulated in the nationwide legally binding Drinking Water Ordinance (TrinkwV): “Drinking water or ‘water for human consumption’ must be ‘pure and fit for consumption’ and may contain neither pathogens nor other substances in concentrations that are harmful to human health. Limit values for 53 microbiological, chemical and physical parameters such as nitrate and organic trace substances, for example pesticides, substantiate these quality characteristics. For example, one litre of drinking water must not contain more than 0.01 milligrams (mg) of lead, 2 mg of copper, 0.02 mg of nickel and 50 mg of nitrate.

Raw water for drinking water treatment, which comes from ground and surface water, among other sources, can also be contaminated by low concentrations of active ingredients from pharmaceuticals. In order to ensure that all limit values are complied with, the drinking water is monitored along the entire route from the measuring points in the vicinity of the wells, through the treatment and transfer point to the distributor, to the consumer’s water intake.

Stricter requirements than for mineral water

In the samples reported to the Federal Environment Agency, however, microorganisms or substances are only very rarely found in concentrations that are of concern. In more than 99 percent of the cases, the limit values are met. Stiftung Warentest (Foundation Commodity Testing) also regularly takes samples nationwide and certifies that tap water, as a strictly controlled foodstuff, is of good quality: “There are considerably more regulations for tap water than for mineral water, for example limits for pesticides and uranium. Therefore, water suppliers must regularly test their water. With regard to germs, this applies to large companies several times a day. The water has to be so good that someone can drink it every day for the rest of their life without getting sick from it”.