Living in, moving to or planning to visit Poland? In this article we will answer all your questions about tap water in Poland, Warsaw, Krakow, Worcaw, Gdansk, Sopot and Lodz.
Where does tap water in Poland come from?
71.7% of water used for collective supply of population in 2015 came from underground water intakes and in 28.3% from surface water intakes. In Poland, about 36 million people are supplied with water from the collective drinking water supply system, while the remaining part is supplied with water from individual intakes, e.g. from wells at home.
It is believed that one of the reasons people distrust tap water is because of pollution of rivers and lakes throughout the country.
Historically the rivers and groundwater in Poland have been very polluted so no wonder people are concerned about drinking tap water. Agriculture, industries, chemical production, waste water and poorly protected landfills caused huge harm to the environment. Thankfully this has been regulated for many years now which means that rivers, lakes and groundwater are now cleaner than they were 20 years ago.
However, this is not enough. The main reason that you can safely drink the tap water today is that water treatment has improved and guarantees that all common contaminants are removed before the water is pumped into the tap water pipes. The last stage of this is disinfection (chlorination) preventing pathogens in the water before it reaches your tap.
How is Polish tap water regulated?
The government in Poland guarantees that the tap water quality in Warsaw is safe to drink. Despite this guarantee, many Poles and tourists use bottled water, especially mineral water, instead of tap water.
Water companies operating in Poland are required to comply with standards adopted from European Union (EU) regulations. The most significant directive is the Water Framework Directive (WFD) which changed the water cleanliness evaluation system that had been used in Poland since 1970. The new system’s objectives are to preserve the Biological, Hydro-morphological (i.e. river bank structure and river continuity) and Chemical quality of ALL ground and surface water. This guarantees that any water meant for consumption must not, even potentially, pose a danger to human health. The directive also sets the general standard of acceptable concentrations of harmful substances in the human body.
MYTH: Water from the water supply network should be boiled before consumption
There is no need for that. Tap water is directly suitable for consumption. It must comply with the standards of the Regulation of the Minister of Health of 7 December 2017 on the quality of water intended for human consumption.
Is tap water in Poland safe to drink?
Yes, the public tap water is safe to drink when it leaves the water treatment plant and most probably by the time it reaches your building. If the pipes in your building are new or well maintained then you have nothing to worry about. You can drink the water as it is.
Information for tap water quality for all of Poland updated every 3 months:
Why does my tap water taste bad?
Much of Poland has hard mineral rich water. This combined with chlorine added to keep the water safe from bacteria and viruses gives the water a chemical taste.
Thankfully this is easy to fix. An affordable water filter such as TAPP will make your water taste great and remove potential contaminants.
What about contaminants and corrosion from the pipes?
The biggest issue according to most tests and research old / poorly maintained pipes. Many buildings in Poland are old or poorly built/constructed. Therefore pipe contamination is a risk for your tap water.
Common issues include:
- change in the color of the water
- suspension of corrosion products and clogging of the installation,
- formation of a metallic aftertaste of water,
- increase in water toxicity due to corrosion of lead, cadmium, copper, vinyl chloride or other substances.
This is why you may occasionally get brown water from your tap instead of crystal clear water.
A high quality water filter such as TAPP will ensure your water is safe to drink despite these issues.
Do people drink tap water in Poland?
Drinking water with a meal is not a Polish tradition. But having a tea or coffee afterwards is much more common. If you ask for water in a restaurant or bar in most of Poland you will usually get a choice of carbonated (gazowana) or still (niegazowana) bottled water, rather than a glass of tap water.
Tap water in the biggest cities in Poland
Tap water in Warsaw
Most of Warsaw’s water comes from the Vistula River and stored in the Zegrze Reservoir. Three supply systems then bring the water to Warsaw’s inhabitants. Wodociąg Centralny (Central Water Main) is the oldest. It was built in the 19th century. After many renovations, it is still functioning and providing water for more than half of Warsaw’s residents. The other supply systems are Wodociąg Praski (Praga Water Main) and Wodociąg Północny (Northern Water Main)
Tap water in Krakow:
Krakow Poland, tap water is safe for drinking. The quality is good but it’s very hard. You can drink wash, clean food and brush your teeth using tap water.
Tap Water in Wroclaw
In Wrocław, you can quench the thirst with unboiled tap water, because it corresponds to even the most stringent Polish and European standards. However, before drinking, it is recommended to drain the first batch of water, which was stopped in the pipes for too long.
Tap water in Gdańsk and Sopot
Yes, it’s safe to drink. The percentage of Gdaniaszczans drinking water directly from the tap has increased from 26% in 2003 to 50% in the latest study. The percentage of Sopocian drinking water directly from the tap is 66% which is the highest in Poland.
Tap water in Lodz
The local water company ZWiK claims to provide the “One of the best and cheapest in Poland” with 90% supplied from deep-sea wells. 20 of the 33 wells use provides water that is of such good quality that it does not require treatment (wells with a depth of 100 to 901 meters – quaternary, upper and lower chalk). h is of excellent quality and at the same time it is very cheap – one of the cheapest of the waters supplied to residents in the largest Polish cities.
Bottled water in Poland
Carbonated mineral waters are popular, and several kinds are available. Poland was known for its mineral water health spas (pijalnie wód) in the 19th century, and the tradition remains strong – you can find many carbonated waters that are naturally rich in minerals and salts. You can also travel to the spas such as Szczawnica or Krynica, which are still operational. Across the country there are broad choices of bottled water with very high content of minerals, called woda mineralna.
“Today, when mineral waters are chemically contaminated and the standard regulating their quality is adapted to the new reality, consumers of these waters are not informed that they have exactly the same nutritional value and are just as contaminated as tap water.”
But there are three major issues with bottled water
Firstly mineral waters in Poland come from the depths of the earth. But this water is generally of the same quality as the tap water of which 70% in Poland comes from the same source. The bottled water regulation allows the presence of the same toxic compounds in mineral waters in the same quantities as is allowed in tap waters.
Secondly, many compounds harmful to our health can penetrate from plastic into water. Such compounds are, among others, bisphenols, ingredients that improve the plastic properties. Bisphenols (e.g. bisphenol A or BPA) “pretend” hormones and thus disrupt the functioning of the endocrine system of humans and animals. The penetration of them from bottles into the water depends on the storage time and increases significantly under the influence of heat and sunlight. So let’s remember to store drinks in a dark and cool place. Nor do we buy “from the exhibition” water, where it could have been exposed to the sun for a long time. Many modern bottles, bottles and cups are already made from materials free of bisphenol A. They are often labeled BPA-free or 0% BPA.
Thirdly bottled water is bad for the environment. The process of producing plastics is bad for the environment, the process of bottling is water wasting and the transportation is costly with a high CO2 footprint. Finally the bottles usually end up on landfills where they break down into microplastics polluting rivers, lakes and groundwater. Less than 10% of plastic bottles get recycled into new bottles which means that we continue to produce even more plastics.
The estimated price of bottled water (1.5-liter) is 1-3 zloty, $0.24-0.70 or €0.20-0.60
This means that a family of 3 spends from 1300 to 3300 zloty per year on bottled water.
Summary of Polish tap water:
Let’s summarize –
- Tap water is equal in quality to bottled water in Poland. But both come with some risks due to plastic and pipes corrosion.
- Avoid bottled water if you can. Filtered or unfiltered tap water is much cheaper than bottled water.
- If you don’t like the taste or worry about tap water contaminants from pipes then a water filter is a better alternative than bottled water
- The best water filter for Poland is TAPP delivering clean great tasting water at a low cost