The “Hamburger Wasserwerke” process an average of 300’000 cubic meters of water daily, serving more than two million people in the greater Hamburg area. Whether for drinking, cooking, or household activities, clean water is one of the most essential resources and is integral to our daily lives. But where does the drinking water in Hamburg come from? And is it safe to drink water directly from the tap?
Legal foundations and quality standards for drinking water
In Germany, the quality of drinking water is regulated by the Drinking Water Ordinance. This regulation specifies the parameters that water must meet to be approved as drinking water. These standards also apply in Hamburg and are regularly monitored. The results of water analyses are published in an annual report and are accessible to every citizen. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) oversees compliance with regulations and assists the states in conducting inspections.
Where does Hamburg's drinking water come from?
In Hamburg, drinking water is extracted from groundwater through deep wells and treated to ensure high quality. Water treatment involves various steps, such as removing iron and manganese, as well as disinfection using small amounts of chlorine or chlorine dioxide. Parameters such as pH value, hardness, and microbial contamination are regularly checked to ensure compliance with the Drinking Water Ordinance. According to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), legal limits for all relevant parameters in Hamburg tap water have been consistently met for years. Similarly, the groundwater, the primary water source for water treatment in Hamburg, is of high quality. If you want to know exactly which minerals are present in your tap water, detailed analyses by neighbourhoods are available on the Hamburg Municipal Utilities website.
Good drinking water quality, even directly from the tap?
The “Hamburger Wasserwerke” distribution network spans 5’500 kilometers, with water being rigorously tested at various points along the way. However, most contaminations occur within buildings, in the last meters leading to the tap. Pollution with lead, nickel, copper, and other substances can occur due to old, faulty, or inferior house pipes and fittings. To avoid contamination of your drinking water, it is advisable to regularly clean faucets and pipes. If you want to ensure that your drinking water remains free of impurities, you can have it tested by the “Hamburger Wasserwerke”. Such tests are even free for households with pregnant women and infants.
Hamburg's drinking water compared to other cities and regions
Compared to other cities or regions in Germany, Hamburg can take pride in the quality of its drinking water. A report from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in 2020 indicates that Hamburg ranks in the upper third in terms of drinking water quality. The parameters determining water quality are regularly monitored and checked, ensuring that tap water always meets the requirements of the Drinking Water Ordinance and is therefore safe for health. The groundwater, as the main source for Hamburg's drinking water, is carefully protected and monitored.
So, how good is the quality of Hamburg's drinking water really?
The city of Hamburg adheres to strict legal requirements and quality standards in the extraction and treatment of drinking water. Water sources and treatment facilities in Hamburg are regularly inspected. When comparing the quality of drinking water in Hamburg to other cities or regions in Germany, it ranks in the upper third. Despite these positive aspects, challenges in ensuring a consistently high-quality drinking water supply may arise. Distribution networks need continuous expansion or modernization, and house installations should be regularly inspected to ensure continued high water quality. Tips for improving drinking water quality at home and protecting drinking water are provided by the “Hamburger Wasserwerke”.