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Water and health

Water companies provide essential services to treat and deliver safe drinking water and to remove wastewater and dispose of it with minimal impact on the environment.

Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about water supply in the UK are below.

Absolutely. Staying hydrated is important for feeling energized and concentrated. Our bodies are on average 60% water and maintaining a water balance is absolutely vital for our health and survival. Opting for plain water rather than sugary drinks also contributes to overall fitness as it hydrates the body and mind without unnecessary calories. Tap water is of the highest quality in the UK and given its wide availability, it offers an ideal daily choice for a healthy lifestyle.

Exactly how much water you need is depends on your body constitution, age, sex, physical activity levels, and also on environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. The adequate daily fluid intakes as set by the European Food Safety Authority and by the NHS vary between 1.6-2.5l a day. These volumes apply to conditions of moderate environmental temperature and moderate physical activity and ought to be consumed throughout the day.

For the sole purpose of hydration, there is no qualitative difference between plain water and water from foods and other beverages. According to the Annual Review on Nutrition, food and metabolic oxidation can in fact cover up to 20-40% of the daily fluid intake. Yet when compared to many other beverages, water has the advantage of being sugar-free. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has recently recommended that consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks should be minimised by both adults and children.

Yes, British tap water is among the best in the world. Millions of tests are conducted annually to guarantee the best possible quality of water for consumers. That makes tap water the most regulated drink out there. You can find out more about water quality at DiscoverWater.co.uk.

Tap water is the freshest drink you can quench your thirst with. It takes anywhere from a few hours to a few days to get it from the treatment plant to your home.

Unless your water company issues a specific boil notice, it is not necessary to boil your tap water.

By law your local water company has to supply wholesome water that is suitable for all domestic purposes, including drinking, cooking and washing. All public water supplies are regularly tested in England and Wales and the results which are published and available to every consumer on request show that tap water is safe to drink and there is no need to install additional treatment within the home as a health protection measure.

You should avoid using hot water for drinking or cooking because it often comes from a storage tank within the home and is not as fresh as water directly from the mains.

 

All tap water intended for human consumption supplied by water companies is subject to stringent standards, which make sure you can drink it on a daily basis without any harm. Occasional failures are mostly attributable to poor tap hygiene or inappropriate plumbing arrangements which can result in objectionable tastes or odours.

Chlorine is a disinfectant used by water companies around the world to maintain hygienic conditions within the public water supply network of pipes. At the very low levels used in drinking water – routinely at 0.5 mg/l or less (WHO sets the maximum guideline at 5mg/l) – it is perfectly safe.

Yes, as long as it’s compliant with the legal quality standards. However, you should always use unsoftened mains water for preparing babies’ feeds.

 

Refill is the UK’s leading ‘app for tap’ – connecting people looking for water with shops, businesses, fountains and transport hubs where they can refill their water for free on-the-go. Find out more here.

Yes. Establishments that sell alcohol are legally obliged to have free tap water available.

About one third of tap water in England and Wales comes from underground sources (aquifers), in Northern Ireland and Scotland this figure is 6% and 3%, respectively. The rest comes from reservoirs, lakes, and rivers. Namely, surface water in the UK accounts for 68% and mixed sources for 4% of the supply.

Two litres of tap water costs around a third of a penny. To find out more about billing and charging, take a look at DiscoverWater.co.uk.

If you want to find out more about your water or your local water company, take a look at DiscoverWater.co.uk.