This guide explains the water quality in several cities around Spain, and whether it’s suitable for drinking and cooking.
According to numerous health studies carried out across the globe, ideally we should be drinking two litres of water per day. As 80% of our body is made up of water, we need to keep hydrated to maintain our brain and body in working order.
In some countries this wouldn’t be a problem, such as in the UK where drinking water from the tap is a luxury for everyone. But in Spain you have to be careful, as the quality of water is not the same in all parts of the country. In some areas, the water from the taps is not really fit for drinking and can actually make you quite ill if you do.
The Consumer and Users Organisation (OCU) usually carries out regular reports on the quality of the water found in Spain – indicating where the best and worst tap water is to be found. Here are the most recent results.
The best cities to drink tap water in Spain
The tap water in Burgos has been deemed the best water throughout the whole of Spain. During an analysis of 62 municipalities, 50 provincial capitals and 12 towns of varying size, Burgos received the highest score from all the points available. The tap water here is characterised by a low mineralisation and from the tiny amount of calcium, or limescale, that it contains.
As well as gaining the top position for the quality of water, the water in Burgos also ended up in seventh position in relation to the amount of money residents have to pay. In other words, if you live in Burgos, you can enjoy the healthiest tap water in Spain for one of the cheapest prices paid.
San Sebastian, located in the north of Spain in the Basque Country region, is the second Spanish city with the best quality water to come from its taps. This is also due to the light mineralisation, which actually gives it a pleasant taste, and also due to the high scoring it received in the parameters of hygiene and contamination.
As you can start to see, it’s the cities in the north of the country that stand out for their quality of drinking water. The same also goes for the city of Bilbao, which also always fared well in the study.
In third position is the province of Las Palmas. This is quite a surprising result, as the top drinking waters in Spain are not usually found on an island, where hydric resources are generally quite limited. As it turns out, the water in Las Palmas has excelled in the testing for hygiene and contamination.
This is probably down to the fact that a number of years ago, the province was actually sanctioned for the high levels of boron and other chemical elements found in the tap water. It was actually prohibited to use the tap water to drink or even to cook with.
The tap water in Madrid continues to occupy one of the top positions in this ranking. However, considering that in previous years Madrid’s water was ranked in first position, this result is nothing to be ecstatic about. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the water in Madrid has dropped a few positions in the ranking, the water is still good and recommended to drink without any problem. It proved to be clean water and showed minimal levels of contamination.
If you live in any of the aforementioned cities, using the tap water for drinking and cooking will save you on average around €450 a year in bottled water.
Now let’s take a look at some of the areas in the country where the quality of water is not so good.
Worst cities to drink water in Spain
When it comes to the tap water with the highest amount of deficiencies, let’s start with Ciudad Real. While the water here isn’t the worst in the country, you may want to think twice about how much of it you drink. It hasn’t been classified as non-drinking water, but it is true that changes have to be made for it to be classed as good drinking water.
During the most recent analysis of the tap water found in this part of Castilla-La Mancha, almost 100 micrograms/litre of trihalomethane was detected, with 100 micrograms being the absolute limit permitted. This is a substance that is produced from a combination of chlorine and organic matter within the water during the process of turning it into drinking water by disinfection. And, this problem is not a new one for Ciudad Real, as the permitted level of trihalomethane was exceeded in 2002 and 2005, and it also came very close in 2009, meaning that measures to solve the problem were not taken.
Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca is another city on the black list for the quality of water, particularly when it comes to cleanliness and contamination. Additionally, this water is not recommended for drinking due to the poor taste from the high level of mineralisation and because it is very hard water.
There is a huge contrast between the quality of water here and in Las Palmas. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends no more than 25mg/litre of nitrate in our tap water, and in Palma de Mallorca the level just surpassed this at 26mg/litre. While this is only a small amount, it is particularly harmful for children when it reaches their stomach and can cause serious health problems.
Possibly hard to believe, Barcelona is another major city that finds itself on the side of the list for poor quality tap water in Spain. OCU discovered an elevated level of aerobio microorganisms in the water samples from the Catalan city when they were tested. The presence of these microorganisms reveals that the water has been badly disinfected, which in turn signifies that the procedure to turn the water into drinking water has not been carried out correctly. It could also mean, however, that the water has somehow been contaminated along the way from the treatment plant to the homes in the region, including from the pipes inside each property.
While it may have been surprising to see some of the cities from the north of the country featuring on the list of bad drinking water, it might not be so surprising to see this city from the region of Andalusia appear on the list as well. And here, the same as in Barcelona, a high level of aerobes was detected due to poor disinfection. As with the Catalan city, it is advisable not to drink the tap water in Huelva either.
The quality of tap water in eastern parts of the country is not the best, and it is recommended to consume bottled water instead. In Alicante, ideally you wouldn’t drink the water here or use it for cooking. According to the Hispagua web page, amongst the nutrients found within the tap water from this city are high levels of trihalomethanes, more than the permitted levels for clean drinking water. Consuming the water here could cause problems to your health.
Possibly the worst quality tap water in Spain is found in Cáceres. Here, it’s no longer odourless, colourless and tasteless as it should be, and that’s because as well as the usual nutrients found in the water, there are plenty of other substances that shouldn’t be there too. If you live in the Cáceres area, it is advised not to drink the water nor use it for cooking.