Tourists often have the question in their mind: what is the quality of tap water like in Budapest? This article helps you to find an answer to this question.
It is important for people who travel to know what the quality of tap water is like in their target country
If you travel somewhere, it is obviously important to have good quality and a sufficient amount of water. Quality is a crucial question, since, unfortunately, in a lot of countries the infrastructure is not good enough to clean the water properly. Therefore, drinking tap water is not recommended.
Before your journey, it is always useful to know whether tap water can be drunk in the target country and if yes, what quality it is.
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If the water is neither fit for cooking nor fit for drinking, obviously it means a bit of inconvenience because you need to pay attention not to swallow the water while having a shower. Besides this, cooking and cleaning your teeth is also a bit more problematic, since you need to use bottled water.
This problem mainly occurs in underdeveloped or developing countries. These countries include India, the majority of countries in Africa, certain Middle-East and South-African countries.
So, the main question: Is tap water in Budapest suitable for drinking or not?
I live in Budapest. I was born here, so I know what I am talking about. I can calm you. Tap water in Budapest is not only suitable for drinking but also of perfect quality.
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My child also drinks it. If there was only the slightest problem with tap water, I would obviously not let my child drink it.
It is a proven fact that the Hungarian drinking water stock is not only safe but also of outstanding quality, even compared to the European average.
This is true of not only the quality of water but also of the service as well. If you do not believe it, just keep on reading this article and all your doubts will disappear.
You will get an answer to:
- Where does tap water come from?
- How strictly is the tap water of Budapest tested?
- Where is tap water stored?
- How hard is the tap water of Budapest?
- Shall we drink tap water or mineral water?
- What is the quality of tap water like in the countryside?
- Is there lead in the Budapest water pipe system?
- Are there medicine residues in the tap water?
Why is good quality water important?
Water is the most important and valuable treasure of the world since without water life would not exist in the world. Nearly 60-70% of our body consists of water, but the kidneys, the eyes, and the brain contain even more than that.
The average daily water need of an adult is 2.5 – 3.5 liters which need to be ingested in our body in the form of clean water and foodstuff in order that our body can function normally.
It is also proved by the fact that we can live without food for 60 days, whereas, only a 15% loss of water can lead to death. The important biological function of water is due to the fact that water is an excellent solvent – many organic and inorganic substances are soluble in it.
Water plays a crucial role in our metabolism. Did you know that water can be found in 2 forms in the human organism? One of them is the so-called free water, which has the feature of solubility, the other one is bound water which is inhibited in its solubility and mobility.
The quality of tap water in Hungary
We can say that tap water can be consumed in all European countries. However, it is worth checking what tap water contains.
In Hungary the situation is good, even in worldwide terms. Hungary is rich in sweet water rivers and lakes, furthermore, it has unique underground water stocks – it is worldwide famous.
No other country has so much and such outstanding quality thermal and medicinal water, mineral water and spring water.
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Where is tap water extracted from in Hungary?
Obviously the first question is where tap water comes from. Well, in Hungary the so-called raw water, which is necessary for tap water, is provided from 4 water sources.
From deep water sources
35% of raw water comes from protected underground sources, in other words, from deep water sources. These are strictly guarded, closed wells. Their depth can be from 10 meters down even to more hundred meters.
From riverbank filtration sources
Another 35% is extracted from the river’s pebble-covered bed, in other words, from riverbank filtration sources. The thick pebble layer alongside the Danube functions as an excellent physical and biological filter.
The dug wells and radial wells being near the riverbed (their depth is 10-25 meters) provide drinking water-quality raw water, which is proved by a number of laboratory tests.
From karst water
A further 25% of the raw water is provided by the Hungarian dolomite and limestone mountains, that is, the karsts.
It is good to know that karst water is the cleanest and most valuable raw water in the world, and in Hungary, this valuable water accounts for a high proportion of tap water.
Karst water is the best quality ever due to the calcium and magnesium ions dissolved from the karsts. It is hard drinking water, which usually doesn’t need to be cleaned.
From surface water
Since the dolomite- and limestone mountains providing karst water are really vulnerable, they are under strict protection in Hungary.
The most protected areas can be found in Bakony, Vértes and Bükk mountains. The remaining 5% of the raw water necessary for tap water is extracted from surface water.
Surface water can rarely be used for the production of tap water in Hungary, it is possible only in locations where other raw water is not accessible or the extraction is not economical.
Surface water is extracted from the Tisza, from the water reservoirs of Bükk and Mátra as well as from Lake Balaton.
In Hungary, the extracted raw water must undergo quite a complicated cleaning process in order that the quality can meet the strict requirements.
How strictly is tap water tested in Budapest?
Drinking water (tap water) must contain quite a lot of physiologically important dissolved minerals, and the quantity of these is determined in a detailed way.
Based on this, the water management bodies uniformly determine the national limit value. In Budapest, tap water is the most strictly controlled “foodstuff”.
Tap water is checked more times a week by the Hungarian water supply providers, by way of taking samples and testing them in accredited laboratories. They have to document and report this data to the competent authority.
Tap water testing takes place based on 56 examination criteria, such as:
- the hardness of the water
- the PH value of the water
- organic and inorganic substances dissolved in water
- bacteriological parameters
These parameters are tested more than 11.000 times a year by the (Fővárosi Vízművek Zrt) Budapest Waterworks Plc.
Here, you can find detailed information about it.
Where is tap water stored in Budapest?
Tap water in Budapest is stored in a different storage system. It is necessary because water consumption changes during the day.
The highest water need is typical in the morning and evening, because people cook, have a bath, wash after waking up and after arriving home from work.
Contrary to this, the extraction of raw water is constant, so it is necessary to store the extracted and cleaned water so that no water shortage will occur in the peak periods.
You may not have thought about the fact why water towers are so high. Well, the reason is that they need to provide proper water pressure. It is a curiosity, however, that a water tower must be higher than the highest building in the area belonging to the tower – this is why water towers are built at the top of hills or really high places.
Tap water gets in your flat from water towers. The highest water reservoir of Hungary is in Budapest, in the core of the Gellért mountain, and it can store 110,000 cubic meters of water. Budapest is supplied with clean drinking water from here.
How hard is the Hungarian tap water?
In most parts of Hungary middle-hard and hard water can be found which is beneficial from a health perspective.
The hardness of tap water is due to the presence of calcium and magnesium which are important minerals. Calcium is necessary for developing healthy teeth and bones – the daily calcium need of an adult is 800-1000 mg.
Besides being invaluable in the development of bones, magnesium also supports the cardiovascular system and the nervous system – the daily magnesium need of an adult is 400-600 mg.
The hardest water can be found in Budapest and in counties around Lake Balaton, while the softest water can be found in South-East Hungary – mostly within the boundary of Szeged-Szolnok-Debrecen-Békéscsaba.
Mineral water vs tap water – the eternal question
Nowadays drinking mineral water is really popular. Many people drink bottled mineral water which is rich in different minerals, instead of tap water – however, it is not a good idea. Mineral water should mainly be consumed, when our body especially needs certain minerals.
Types of water
Many types of water exist – mineral water is the spring water which differs in its composition from ground water and its content of solute is more than 1000 mg/liter. Besides this, it contains a certain unique compound in unusually high amount or its temperature is higher.
The mineral waters having a temperature of more than 24 degrees Celsius are called thermal waters.
The mineral water, if it contains a lot of free carbon-dioxide, is called sour water. The high Glauber’s salt (magnesium sulfate, sodium sulfate)-content mineral water is called bitter water.
All of the bitter waters have beneficial physiological effects – they facilitate the metabolism, that is, they have a kind of laxative effect. Besides this, we know different medicinal waters which have a beneficial effect on various diseases, when they are used for drinking or bathing.
On mineral water bottles, the content of minerals is indicated, however, a lot of people just take off the shelves the bottles seen in the advertisement or having a nice label, without reading it.
When is it not recommended to consume much mineral water?
I strongly recommend you to read the bottle labels. If you insist on drinking mineral water, drinking high sodium-content mineral water is not recommended for people having high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, and kidney problems.
When is mineral water useful?
It is good to drink high sodium-content mineral water if you want to make up for salt after a tiring hike or work-out, losing a lot of poisonous materials included valuable salt.
The advantages of tap water
The conclusion that it is more recommended in everyday life to drink tap water and consume different mineral water types only occasionally may be surprising.
Let’s see the advantages of tap water compared to mineral water:
- Tap water contains the proper amount of minerals necessary for the body
- Its physical, chemical and microbiological parameters are regularly tested, its quality meets the strictest Hungarian government guidelines
- Tap water gets in your flat through a closed, sunshine-free system
- You no more need to carry heavy mineral water bottles the quality of which is doubtful, considering their storage (direct sunshine, improperly cleaned bottle, dilution of micro-plastic particles in the bottle, etc.)
- No plastic bottle – no environmental pollution. It is a sad fact that only a small amount of PET bottles is thrown into the selective container, and an even smaller amount is recycled by companies. The majority of the empty mineral water bottles still end up in the oceans, polluting the water and marine life.
- Tap water is much more cost-effective (besides being more environment-friendly) since the price of tap water is 0.30 HUF/liter while a bottle of mineral water is 50 HUF, it can even be up to 200 HUF (that is, you can drink 150 liters of tap water at the price of 1 liter of mineral water).
All in all, we can say that tap water is also a kind of mineral water since clean water in chemical terms does not exist in the Earth.
The quality of tap water in the Hungarian countryside
Every water contains different chemical components which affect the human organism.
During the cleaning of tap water the amount of most minerals are not eliminated from the water, but certain minerals are reduced in order to be in accordance with the strict Hungarian rules and be suitable for everybody for everyday consumption.
Tap water contains Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Fluorine, Chloride, Sulphate, and Phosphates. It also contains a variety of microelements such as Copper, Zinc, Chromium, Selenium, Cobalt, Molybdenum, and Nickel.
Where isn’t it recommended to drink tap water in Hungary?
Unfortunately, the tap water in certain areas contains poisonous compounds as well, however, the proportion of these areas is getting smaller and smaller due to the continuous water management development.
The pollutants mainly occur in drilled wells, but also in certain areas of the country, even in the tap water. In these areas, it is recommended to restrict tap water consumption.
It is important to note that these materials are poisonous only if somebody drinks them all the time and in a higher amount, or if somebody drinks tap or well water of poor quality for many years.
So, the poisonous materials are Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Mercury
All of this pollution can be connected to industrial pollution – if the polluting material of a nearby industrial facility or agricultural by-product leaks into a certain raw water source.
I don’t recommend drinking tap water – mainly due to its Arsenic- and Lead content – in more settlements of the Southern Great Plain, mainly in Békés, Csongrád, Bács-Kiskun counties.
As opposed to this, I find it important to highlight the fact that Budapest and its surroundings is completely safe.
Is there Lead in the water pipe system of Budapest?
Some mistaken information and rumor occurred in the media that lead can be found in the tap water in Budapest.
How much is the limit value of lead in Hungary?
Under a stricter law passed in 2013, the limit value of lead in tap water cannot be more than 10μg/l. This is regularly checked and kept under the limit by the Hungarian Waterworks Plc.
How can Lead get into tap water?
If the Hungarian Waterworks Plc. checks the tap water regularly, how can lead get into the tap water? Well, the answer is that the tap water may be completely clean, but the water pipes of the building are made from lead.
In Budapest, in the houses and flats built before the 1970s, lead wire was often used. Later using lead for this purpose was banned in the whole of Europe.
It does not mean that there is a problem with the drinking water itself, but the problem is from the obsolete pipe system of the old building from which a smaller amount of polluting material can dissolve – however, it does not show the bad quality of tap water but the poor maintenance of these houses.
In the new-built or luxury hotels in Budapest, these water pipes have been changed, so there is no need to fear that we drink leaded tap water. It is, however, possible that the water pipe network is not the most modern in really old buildings.
Just to be on the safe side:
- Do not let warm or hot water flow from the tap, because the harmful materials can dissolve from the water pipe system more if the water is warm.
- Let the cold water flow for about half a minute. During this time the water stored in the pipe flows out and freshwater gets in the water pipe system. You can drink it!
I would like to highlight again that this is only a precaution needed in the old buildings of Budapest.
Are there medicines residues in the drinking water of Budapest?
Another rumor which has also proved to be mistaken, according to examinations is that medicines residues can be found in the tap water of Budapest.
After a scandal had broken out, tests were carried out on the Budapest drinking water sources, from the water of the Danube as well as on parts being before and after the water treatment, with the involvement of independent experts.
These tests did not show any medicine residue, despite the fact that the sophisticated instruments can indicate nanogram amounts (that is, one-millionth gram)
If we assume that 100 ng (100 nanograms) amount of ibuprofen (which is a painkiller) can be found in 1 liter of water, the amount equaling one pill’s agent would be found in 4 million liters of water which means 20 million glasses of water. We must admit that this is nonsense.
I do hope that with my article I have helped you to be better informed about the tap water in Budapest, and I have eliminated your concerns and doubts.
The quality of tap water in Budapest is excellent! You can drink it without any fear. If on a hot summer day the waiter serves your lemonade with ice-cube, you do not need to panic.
As I said, the quality of the Hungarian tap water is among the firsts worldwide.
- Budapest Waterworks – Annual Report
- 220/2004. (VII. 21.) Korm. rendelet a felszíni vizek minősége védelmének szabályairól (rules for protecting the quality of waters)
- In Budapest the tap water is healthy and safe to consume
- Fővárosi Vízművek – Vízminőség ( Budapest Waterworks Plc. -Water quality)