March 22 is World Water Day. Dimitri Crespin of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) research group Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering (HYDR), with the Green Team and the Prevention and Environment Department, has launched a water campaign based on the global Blue Community water initiative, to encourage people to drink more tap water. The campaign also re-assures the public that tap water in Brussels is good which means there is no reason to stockpile bottled water
Bottled water is more expensive, has an environmental cost, and has to be carried home from the shops. But most people are willing to bring these efforts and costs for better quality water. The question is whether the quality of tap water is actually that bad.
“There are big misunderstandings about the quality of tap water,” says Crespin.
“Tap water is monitored on a daily basis and against more than 55 parameters. On the Vivaqua website, you can even trace where your water comes from and how it is monitored, and Leefmilieu Brussel reports on this too. There is absolutely no risk of contamination in tap water. Water in Brussels comes mainly from groundwater tables, up to 70%. That water does not need to be cleaned, it is pumped directly to our taps.”
Another misunderstanding concerns the limescale in tap water, especially in Brussels. “Limescale, contrary to what is often claimed, is good for your health,” Crespin says. “There are many minerals in it that other types of water or food do not always have. If you suffer from limescale in your kitchen appliances, vinegar is a cheap cleaning alternative that works perfectly.”
Of course, the smell of chlorine remains. “Indeed, a small amount of chlorine is added to prevent bacteria. If the smell or taste bothers you, you can open the tap for a few seconds, after which the chlorine disappears, or leave the water for a while after pouring,” he adds. “Chlorine is a gas and evaporates, so it doesn’t hurt.”
The aim of the campaign is to turn Vrije Universiteit Brussel into a Blue Community, a concept introduced from Canada in which authorities adopt a water commons framework that treats water as a common good and a common responsibility. “We want to get VUB to actively promote tap water and, for example, to stop offering bottled water at meetings and receptions. We also want to reduce the number of vending machines and help people change their water behaviour,” says Crespin.
Source: VUB Press
Interested to learn more about similar initiatives? Read more about the free tap water in Brussels restaurants!