Tap Water Challenge

Water in Janskerkhof
The latest TEDxUtrecht took place this week and it seems that one of the discussions was about ways to encourage Utrechters to turn to tap water instead of bottled water. Not only is tap water the cheaper option, but it’s also better for the environment, since you don’t end up with all those plastic bottles. Considering the fact that plastic recycling isn’t the easiest form of recycling here, it seems particularly relevant.

The Utrecht Tap Water Challenge, organized by TEDxUtrecht and supported by the Join the Pipe foundation, Vitens, and the city of Utrecht, wants locals to get involved and come up with ways to encourage others to choose tap water. The winning idea will win a prize and have the opportunity to see their idea implemented. The deadline is 30 November 2012.

Water in Neude

A number of free water points have been established in locations around the city and other locations are being considered. If you’re out and about and have a reusable water container or some other sort of cup, you can always fill up, rather than spend €1 for a plastic bottle of water. In a pinch, you can go really green and use your own hand, of course! There’s one at Janskerkhof, Park Lepelenburg, Neude, Griftpark, and Marco Poloplantsoen.

Drink WaterPerhaps you’re like I used to be and have some unpleasant associations with tap water, whether it’s smelly, tastes bad, or comes with a warning as it did years ago when I lived in New Orleans. I used Britta filters and bottled water like many people and continued to do so when I first moved here, simply out of habit. Then I tasted the tap water here. It’s actually really nice! Utrecht has a reputation for the quality of its water. In fact, the water we get from our tap is the same spring water that gets bottled by brands like Sourcy.

Not everyone has access to quality tap water, but it’s worth trying from time to time, rather than simply buying bottled or shelling out for all of those filters. The irony is that we do have such great water in Utrecht, but it’s very hard to actually get tap water in restaurants here. They’ll bring you a bottle of still water, instead, as there’s no profit to be made off tap water. Perhaps that should be my suggestion for the competition: encouraging restaurants to provide tap water on request.

If you want more information about the contest, check the Gemeente’s website or visit the TEDxUtrecht idea site where you can submit your ideas. (Editor’s Note 1/8/13: contest has finished)

19 thoughts on “Tap Water Challenge

  1. I don’t know whether this would work there, but the best way I can think of to promote drinking tap water would be an advertising campaign showing parents giving glasses of tap water to their children. Simply illustrates it’s safe & healthy.

    • I’m sure that’s a valid point to raise. I’m not really sure how widespread the idea is that bottled is better here, but that’s because I heard early on from Dutch friends that the water here is good. I’m certainly curious to see what direction they do take.

  2. Great post! And how about praising the restaurants that are happy to provide plain old Utregs kraanwater? I’ll start: Taj Mahal (Zadelstraat) and Het Gerecht (Catharijnesingel).

  3. Usually, when you order a full meal, restaurants will serve you a glass of tap water. As long as you buy regular drinks as well 🙂 I actually had to get used to the taste of tapwater in Utrecht. Compared to tapwater from the southern regions, it doesn’t taste that good. Southern tapwater has been filtered through many layers of fine sand, and is very clean as a result. I don’t taste the difference anymore though, and happily drink Utrecht tapwater. Didn’t know it was famous though! I do know that the BarleDuc brand bottled water comes from Den Bosch and not from some fancy French ancient mountain spring 🙂

    • I guess I just don’t eat out often enough to have experienced the glass of water. 🙂 It’s funny that you didn’t think the water here tasted that good. Now I’m curious to try water from the southern regions!

  4. btw, Dutch toilets flush with tapwater. So, in theory, it’s perfectly safe to drink from your toilet. Never caught on though, for some reason ;-p

  5. Here in Portland, Oregon we have wonderful tap water, but still need/have a campaign to get people to forgo bottled water. When we were in Germany my husband asked for “Leitungswasser” (tap water) in a restaurant and the woman wanted to know if we wanted it for our car! I drove our friends nuts when I filled my glass from the faucet.

    • It’s strange/sad how good a job the bottled water marketing people have done to get people to buy only bottled water and not drink their own tap water when it’s perfectly fine.

  6. As a Dutch I must say I am rather surprised to see that people are using bottled water as an alternative to tap-water. I know that when I am abroad, I do the same, because tap water abroad often is of less quality. But I have never considdered using bottled water instead of tap water when I am in the Netherlands.

    I always got really annoyed by my ex BF and current BF (both from abroad) that they insisted on buying those expensive bottles. As I have worked for the water company Vitens, I know the quality of the tapwater. Vitens provides the best tapwater in Europe, and it’s of no less quality than bottled water of SPA and Sourcy indeed.

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