It goes without saying that water, and the availability of clean drinking water more specifically, is becoming more and more problematic.
The causes of this are numerous and complicated. Suffice it to say that, as the population of the world continues to increase and the damage to the environment it causes rises with it, the more difficult it gets to find clean drinking water.
Thus, learning about clean drinking water, how to find it and what to do if it’s not readily available is important and that’s what this article will discuss.
Where Does the Earth’s Water Come from?
You may be surprised to learn that even though 70% of the planet is made up of water, we have little idea where it came from in the first place. It almost certainly wasn’t around when the earth was first formed.
The usual suspect is that our water came from an asteroid or comet, which makes sense. As the earth was forming, all kinds of objects were smashing into it. Some of those objects could possibly have contained the water we now have on our planet.
However, more recently, there have been suggestions that water formed deeply underground whilst the earth itself was forming. Basically, different gases, pressures and other factors allowed hydrogen and oxygen to bind. Obviously, that’s the least sounding scientific explanation ever, but that’s the general idea.
How Much Freshwater Is There on Earth?
Another amazing fact about the substance that makes up 70% of our planet is that only 2.5% of it is fresh water. And only 1% is easy to access, with the other 1.5% locked up in glaciers, snow and other hard-to-reach places.
In fact, only “0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available” for about 7 billion people. To put that into perspective, if the planet’s entire water sources amounted to one liter, no more than seven milliliters of it would be the drinkable part!
That is a worryingly little amount which is why we need to take great care of the freshwater we do have.
If you’d like to research more about our problems with freshwater, read ‘Freshwater Crisis’ from the National Geographic.
What Are the 3 Best Sources for Drinking Water?
1. Tap Water
The best source of drinking water is tap water. Although sadly not all countries can claim to be able to deliver safe water through its taps. In other words, the safety of your tap water is mainly based on where you live. If you live in or visit a developing country then you definitely need to exercise caution.
But even if you reside in a developed country you may need to take care when it comes to tap water. Here are 32 countries where the water is more or less safe to drink right from the tap:
- Czech Republic
- Faroe Islands
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- S. Korea
- United Kingdom
Please take some of the above with a pinch of salt. When researching which countries have tap water safe for drinking there is a surprising lack of solid information. Some countries, including those in Scandinavia, Singapore, Germany and the UK, seem to have a consensus, other countries not so much so.
It is probably best to do your own research if you plan to visit a certain place, no matter if it’s on the list above or not. Also, in some countries, tap water will always be safe to drink. Other countries, such as the USA, Hungary and Poland, where you expect the water to be safe, you might be in for a surprise.
2. Filtered Water
Your tap water is okay to drink but has problems like a ‘funky’ taste’? Quite often, the strange taste is caused by chlorine. If that is the case, you can just put some water in a jug and let it sit for a couple of hours. It should taste just fine afterwards.
If your tap water requires a bit more help, you might consider installing a filtration system in your home. Filtration systems are great for so many reasons. If your residential area suffers from hard water, you can filter it out so the water becomes softer which will save you some serious money over the years.
Another type of filtration is called ‘Reverse Osmosis’. This is a system that allows you to eliminate the vast majority of impurities from your water. The process is a bit technical; however, BOS has a very good account of what reverse osmosis is and how it works. You can read all about it in the BOS reverse osmosis 101.
3. Bottled Water
The final and probably the most common go-to solution to safe drinking water is bottled water. If you are travelling around the world and the tap water may not be safe to drink, then buying bottled water is the best way to go. It comes in two forms:
If it says ‘spring water’ somewhere on the bottle, then it has been verified to come from a natural spring. Most of the times, spring water is safe to drink.
Some bottled water is no more than tap water that has been purified. In other words, if you are buying bottled water because the water coming out of your tap doesn’t taste very good, you are spending a fortune on something that you could get from your own tap for much less – think filtration.
Reasons against bottled water are plentiful. It’s bad for the environment, not necessarily safe and ridiculously more expensive than tap water, just to name a few.
Check out this article published on theguardian.com for more reasons why you should say ‘No’ to bottled water where you can.
In summary, the 3 best sources of drinking water are tap, filtered and bottled water. The three are not created equal, though.
High quality tap water is certainly the best option if available. Bottled water is a good alternative when you’re travelling in areas where the tap water is unsafe to drink. If you are buying bottled water in place of the tap water in your home, you may be better off looking at installing a filter system.