Friday, July 2, 2010

Taps and Springs

Polish tap water is notorious for being undrinkable.  At least, that's what all the Poles say.  Poles buy an inordinate amount of bottled water.  The water that comes out of the faucets in Poland is used for almost everything besides drinking straight (they will, however, drink it after it's been boiled.)  Coming from a place where we had perfectly good well water, and thinking there is nothing better than an ice-cold glass of water after a run (from the tap, of course) this has stressed me much.  Long have I suffered lugging those five-liter bottles from the store up the stairs.

Now, I've only recently discovered that not to far from me is a public spring.  Much like public water fountains, these are basically taps providing clean, free water.  The one I had previously known was in Powsin, a bit far away for me to lug the seven five/six-liter bottles back to the apartment.  People from all around bring their empty water bottles to fill up on the water (especially near holidays.)  The springs cut down on our water bills (since the garden is a bit thirsty this year) but also allow us to purchase less water in the stores.  We don't drink the water from the bottles unless it's been boiled (since it's usually sitting around in the bottles at room temperature for a few days) but it's perfect for cooking and making tea.

Filling up at the tap.


Anonymous said...

Funny to read this post as my husband and I just got back from Warsaw and were warned not to drink the tap water. The reason we were given was that the water has a high mineral content. We were given the advice to boil the water. My husband pointed out that boiling works for killing bacteria, the minerals won't be impacted. Anyway - we are moving to Warsaw latter this summer and will probably try to figure it all out then. (Maybe just run a lab test on our water?) Wonder if there will be a public spring in our neighborhood?

PolishMeKnob said...

I'm not doubting the high mineral content of Poland's water, but the only other excuse I've heard is that the water is dirty (and not very treated.) I also hear rumors of Poland slowly upgrading their water treatment facilities so the water will eventually be drinkable. I've also heard that the water is fine (both content-wise and in cleanliness) and that one is able to drink without fear.
Ask around if there is a spring in the neighborhood. If you have a car, there will probably be one a short drive away anyway.

Rat said...

The water is perfectly fine healthwise [at least in Mokotów], it just tastes a bit foul.

Steve said...

I also get frustrated at having to buy and carry bottled still water just because I am the only person that drinks from the tap. Babcia fears the high levels of chlorine, but I can't taste it. She was choking once (mildly, but enough to give her a coughing fit) and I rushed to the tap to give her a glass of water. "Is that good for this" she asked, as if it was the equivalent of some foul medicine. I'm surprised at the high mineral content reason though, since that's one of the excuses for wanting bottled water.

I've always been amazed by the popularity of the public springs. They normally look and often smell like public urinals. People go there with ancient bottles and containers that must be more of a health risk than any tap water can possibly offer.

If you want cheap bottled water without an obvious supermarket own brand, which my wife dislikes, go to LIDL.

PolishMeKnob said...

I usually opt for the cheapest water I can get. The taste is an almost non-factor to me, so I just go for the cheapest. I can't wait for the day when I can save enough to buy a filter for my water system.

I've really only seen two public springs (one near me and one in Powsin.) Both are fine in water quality and appearance (well… the urinal reference is not toooo far off.) But yeah, people do show up with some pretty grungy bottles to be refilled.

I have heard that the water is fine to drink, just a little gross to taste. I also hear that it's slowly getting better as the cities upgrade their water treatment systems.

I was recently away and came back, and turned on the tap in the bathroom to see some pretty gross brownish water come out. Apparently it's not good to let the water sit too long in these old pipes, or else it gets an unpleasant tinge.

Dr. Detroit said...

On my last visit to Pomorze, about 5 years ago, the quality of water improved substantially. My relatives didn't make a big deal out of the necessity to boil water anymore. And I certainly never got sick from drinking it. I think the same's with milk. You can drink it straight out of the bottle nowadays.

PolishMeKnob said...

Was the milk never drinkable straight out of the bottle?

Neil said...

The very first time I found one of those public springs, I was visiting a Salon which had a balcony that overlooked the spring. First thing I saw happening there was a guy filling a bottle with one tap while pissing beneath another. Put me off using them from the off.