Berlin Water: Tap Water = Drinking Water

Berlin Water: drinking water from the tap

drinking water from the tap - Photo 'water' CC BY 2.0 T.Bortels/

Visiting Berlin you might wonder, if Berlin water is actually safe to drink – if you can drink the water straight from the tap? Long story short:  Yes, Berlin water is basically safe to drink. Or at least in most cases it most likely is. In most restaurants, apartments, hotels and hostels you can basically drink the water more or less straight from the tab.

Berlin tap water is basically potable water – and great effort is put into keeping it safe to drink. The Berlin water quality is checked permanently for its quality – and both the Berlin authorities and the water supplier confirm that Berlins tap water is of highest quality. So there is basically no need to buy and carry and drink bottled water.

Drinking Water from Berlin Underground

Technically Berlin tap water is taken from the ground – not directly from the river Spree or from any of the many lakes. However indirectly the water does come from the river Spree or from any of the many lakes since Berlin’s ground water is of course fed by those waters. But by seeping into the ground the water is already filtered by the different layers of sand and soil.

Ground water is then pumped up by the local water supplier and then cleaned and processed at the local water supply works. On this process the water quality is checked again and again  before it’s then pumped through the pipes. On the website of the Berlin water supplier you can check the local testing results by postal code: Test-Tool – Analysedaten nach PLZ (the page and the test-tool are currently available in German only).

leaded water – water pipes made of lead

Basically the only real problem that may arise is, that the water pipes that are actually located inside the house you’re living in could be made of lead (plumbum). This could lead to a certain lead concentration – which can have negative effects on people’s health. But it is actually not very likely that this is the case. Only houses built before 1973 that were not renovated in the past 10 – 20 years may or may not have water pipes made of lead.

If you suspect to have lead pipes in your apartment building, you could first ask the landlord, or the company that owns and/or takes care of the house. The problem should be well known – and your landlord is basically responsible for the water coming from your tap – and that it is actually drinkable.

If you still have your doubts you can ‘investigate’ yourself, if the pipes are made of lead: check the actual pipes in the basement, if you happen to have access. Or take a bottle of tapped water for an official test at Berlin’s water supplier Berliner Wasserbetriebe. The test will cost you around 20 Euros – further information in English can be found on the lead-related page of the Website of Berliner Wasserbetriebe: “Lead-Free? Lead Testing Provides Clarity.

lime concentration of Berlin water

There is no doubt: Berlin water contains a high quantity of lime. This basically does not have any negative effect on the actual quality of the water. But why is there so much lime in the water anyways? Rumors are, that the lime is a leftover of the Second World War. Berlin was bombed to the grounds and the rain washed the lime from the brick hills that were ‘everywhere’.

That is of course not the full truth. While it may or may not be technically possible, the amount of lime in Berlin water is much higher, than any pile of bricks could ever contain. Instead it is very likely that the lime concentration in Berlin water comes from the ice age – layers of lime  underneith the city. But I’m also not sure about this theory.

If you want to remove lime from pots, kettles, kitchen sink and bath tub you can use vinegar. It doesn’t have to be the fancy vinegar you would use for preparing salads though. Since the lime problem is a common problem, Berlins supermarkets provide a variety of vinegar products that are meant to be used for cleaning – and for removing lime from all kinds of surfaces.

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

Bottled water is however very popular. Be it because of the taste, the bubbles or the health myth – or because it is supposed to be more fancy, than tap water: Germans drink water from bottles like never before. In restaurants it used to be almost impossible to get tap water – most probably because restaurateurs would of course prefer to sell a bottle of water or any other drink instead of giving a glass of tap water away for free. This has changed in recent years – and even in bars you may now ask for a glass of tap water without being stared at.

Do you have and thoughts, suggestions, additional recommendations or comments? Please feel free to leave your comment below. Thank you!

4 thoughts on “Berlin Water: Tap Water = Drinking Water

  1. ERibeiro

    My healing therapist recommended filtering the water. When I shared her advise with my Berliner friends they laughed and said that these therapists have “special ideas”. I went ahead and brought myself a filter. I notice the amount of slime at the top. I think the long-term effect of that slime can be harmful for the health. It would be an extra burden on the organs to process it. I can now taste the difference between filtered and unfiltered water.

  2. MBN

    Dear ERibeiro,
    The “slime” on top og your filter may very well be bacterias – not necessary bacterias from the water, but bacterias which grow everywhere that is constantly humid and have access to oxygen.
    Thus your water filter may actually be the indirect cause of the “slime” and not the water itself.
    I can’t say if these bacterias are actually good for you or not – this certainly depends on the type of bacteria. Some bacterias are good, some are neutral and some are bad.

  3. Thomas K. Keenan

    Saw this Link in a recent article: „Sulfat in der Spree: Senat besorgt um Trinkwasser und Kosten“, Berliner Morgenpost, 29. Februar 2016 []

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