We are often asked this question by people who are coming to the USA from other countries – countries where the residents have never even considered whether their tap water is safe. In countries in Europe, we tend to take our tasty safe water for granted.
If we do think about it at all, then yes, we are aware that not all countries are as lucky as we are. We’ve heard about how water can carry disease, especially in developing countries. But what about North America?
It’s true that there have been quite a few scare stories on the internet in the last few years. (They are largely still around – Google will find them for you). And we have to remember that the USA is a pretty huge place – therefore standards can differ as you travel around.
The situation can also change as time goes by. Let me give you an example – here in South Florida the water is safe to drink (although it tastes nasty) 98% of the time. But for whatever reason (probably old pipes within the local system) we occasionally get ‘boil water advisory’ notices telling us that the supply isn’t safe temporarily.
So I do not drink the water from the tap.
Unless you are visiting an area where you know, absolutely certainly know, that the water is safe and tastes good, then I would advise you to do what most people in the United States do – buy bottled water.
The USA is the largest consumer of bottled water in the world. It’s easy to think that maybe this is because Americans have succumbed to clever marketing and that they are doing something that they have somehow been persuaded is the right thing to do.
But this isn’t the case. The water from the tap in many places in the USA (bearing in mind that I haven’t been everywhere and sampled the water) just doesn’t taste good. It simply isn’t refreshing.
If you’re coming to the USA from an area that has excellent tap water (I’m thinking here of the North of England, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Norway etc.) then you’ll certainly not enjoy USA tap water.
There are many articles online that tell us (in alarmist tones) that the water in the USA is bad for our health. I’m keeping an open mind on that issue but if you’re in the States for just a few weeks, you’re unlikely to be affected. But if you value your taste buds, and can recycle bottles properly, then bottled water is the way to go.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.