The merits of good hydration cannot be overstated; as well as keeping kidney function optimum and joints well-oiled, a good fluid intake also helps regulate body temperature and a host of other crucial bodily functions. Of course, this is even more important in a hot country like Portugal. But how can you ensure you are drinking high-quality water? Tap water in Portugal meets EU standards of safety, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is perfect. Read on and discover why you should consider using a water filter in Portugal.
1. Water quality
Although the water supply in Portugal is continuous, and while great efforts have been made over the past few decades to standardise its quality, there are still significant gaps. Water may well be routinely tested for safety, but certain parameters such as levels of iron, manganese and the presence of coliform bacteria are not always consistent. A couple of Portuguese departments (namely, Olhão near Faro and Coimbra on the west coast) have levels of safety which dip below 95%, therefore rendering it “unsatisfactory”. Most of the rest of the country is deemed either “good” or “satisfactory”, but because of these inconsistencies, most people prefer not to drink straight from the tap.
While bottled water lists quantities of its minerals on the label, there are issues with routinely buying water from the supermarket. If each household member spent a conservative €5 per week on bottled water, an average-sized family could easily rack up bills of well over €1,000 a year. Water filters are a one-off expense that keeps your water safe all year round.
2. Protect the Environment
Since tap water can be exceedingly variable across Portugal, there’s a simple solution, right? Bottled water! Wrong. There are several reasons long-term use of bottled water causes additional problems. While most of us can admit to buying a drink that comes wrapped in plastic once in a while, relying on bottled water for all of our hydration needs is undoubtedly costly. What’s more, it is harmful to the environment and – perhaps surprisingly – potentially detrimental to our health, too.
Did you know, an astonishing 8 million tonnes of plastic finds its ways into our oceans every single year? And the problem isn’t merely aesthetic; more than a million seabirds and 100,000 other marine animals die directly from the effects of plastic pollution each year, too. If the whole of Portugal’s 10.5 million-strong population relied solely on bottled water for its hydration needs, you can see how the problems would quickly start to add up.
It gets worse, though. Unfortunately, Portugal has one of the worst recycling records in Europe – in fact, only an abysmal 10% of plastics in Portugal are recycled. That means the bottle used to store your water has been made from scratch – and will probably find its way into the beautiful oceans shortly after you’ve finished with its contents. Clearly, there are more environmentally friendly ways to keep hydrated. A simple water filter won’t result in plastic pollution, and ensures your water is tasty and safe to drink, every day.
2. A filter makes water quality consistent
One of the main reasons to consider investing in a water filter if you’re based in Portugal, has to be to eliminate the discrepancy that comes with the different areas of the country. The tap water in many regions has a very high mineral water, which gives the water a particularly strong flavour. In some parts of the country – particularly the south – the water is very hard, as well as in the area around Lisbon. In Porto and the north, the water is chlorinated and also contains a lot of minerals, which makes it an acquired taste.
While most of these issues don’t affect the quality of what you are drinking, the variability and strong flavours mean most residents choose to source their drinking water elsewhere. Rather than opt for lugging litres of bottled water home from the shop each day, a simple water filter makes it easy to turn readily available tap water into something pleasant to drink, without the negative impacts on the environment that come with relying on plastic.
What’s more, when water is stored in plastic and the air temperature is warm, there is more room for leaching. This is when some of the ‘nasty’ stuff in plastic seeps into the water you’re about to drink. When you’re in a country that is routinely warm, this is not a risk you want to take on a daily basis.
3. A water filter eliminates the chlorine problem
In Portugal, chlorine is added to tap water during the treatment stage, at the plant. This is, of course, a safety measure. Chlorine is an effective way of killing parasites, bacteria and viruses – additions to our drinking water that are not welcomed by anyone.
However, while few of us object too much to a minor whiff of chlorine at the swimming pool (let’s face it, sometimes it can be reassuring!) those who like their refreshing glass of ice-cold water to taste of it, are in a minority.
Using a water filter eliminates traces of chlorine, which improves both the taste and smell of your drink. You’ll also have peace of mind regarding levels of chlorination, too. And, while its super germ-killing powers are admirable, in high enough doses, chlorine is highly toxic, corrosive and an irritant. Don’t panic, though; water is tested regularly in Portugal, to ensure levels of chlorine remain small enough as to not represent a threat to human health. Filtering your tap water, however, does mean you can have the cleansing benefits of chlorine, without the undesired associated taste and smell.
One of the biggest reasons bottled water is so widespread in Portugal, is due to the taste of tap water. While it might meet EU safety standards and not represent a hazard to us, it nevertheless isn’t particularly delicious. And on a hot day, satisfying your thirst with a drink that doesn’t really taste too good is less than satisfying. A water filter is a quick and easy way to eradicate those unpleasant aromas and tastes that are sadly part and parcel of drinking the tap water in Portugal.
Often overlooked, the advantage of practicality cannot be underestimated when it comes to a water filter! No more limiting your supermarket shop because you need to leave room in your trolley (and car!) for cumbersome quantities of bottled water; no more storage problems once you get home, and of course, no more panicking when you’re down to the last bottle!
A water filter not only saves you money long term, but eliminates those weekly – or even daily – niggles, when it comes to managing the hydration levels of your household. What’s more, if you don’t have space for a larger tank, many companies also offer filters which can be attached to a tap, so you can filter your water directly in your kitchen.
We all understand the importance of staying hydrated, yet none of us wants to risk our health, our wallets or the environment for it. A water filter is a quick, cost-effective tool to eliminate the various problems that come with drinking bottled or tap water in Portugal. Once you’ve bought one, your only problem will be working out whether to add ice, a slice or lemon, or both! Enjoy!