Every day, you consume lots of water from foods, beverages like coffee or tea, and pure water. As such, it’s only natural to be curious about the quality and safety of the water supplied at your home. Which gives rise to the question – is tap water in Malta safe to drink?

Tap water (also known as ‘mains water’ or ‘town water’) is tightly regulated by the Public Health authorities, and the water supplied by the Water Services Corporation (WSC) indeed meets EU and WHO Drinking Water Standards. 

Mains water in Malta comes from two sources – seawater reverse osmosis plants and groundwater, with RO water generally having a lower mineral content than groundwater. While there may be slight differences in the mineral content of tap water in different localties around Malta and Gozo, they’re equally safe. Furthermore, the WSC is currently embarking on a multi-million Euro project to improve the quality of town water across Malta, and reduce the differences in the quality of the water received in different localities. 

So why does tap water taste bad? 

Malta’s tap water is less palatable because an amount of chlorine has to be injected to sanitise the water. This dose is generally more than what is added in other EU countries because water in Malta is stored in roof tanks that are exposed to high temperatures, especially in summer. This increases the risk of contamination by bacteria and therefore a higher dose of chlorine is required to keep the water safe from bacteria. This however results in a less palatable taste.  

Does mineral content matter?

Water naturally contains minerals. Particularly, it contains sodium, calcium and magnesium, as well as negligible amounts of other minerals. The concentration of minerals in town water doesn’t affect its safety. Nor is there enough of any given mineral to significantly increase your mineral intake. For example, a litre of town water in Malta contains only 0.1 grammes of sodium, which is negligible compared to the intake of salt in a normal diet.

So, if minerals are not an issue, do we need a reverse osmosis unit?

A domestic reverse osmosis unit removes all minerals (and chlorine) from town water. It does this by passing town water through pre-filters, a pump, a membrane to produce purified water which is then stored in a tank, and passed through taste-correcting filters before use. This is an expensive, complicated process to remove minerals that do not need to be removed in the first place. Moreover, a domestic RO unit typically uses six litres of water to produce one litre of water. The other five litres are run to drain. The turnover of filters and membranes is high; the water in the storage tank is stagnant and without the presence of a disinfecting agent is prone to contamination; mechanical and electrical components will fail and require a specialised technician to replace. And a domestic RO needs a considerable space under the sink by virtue of its tank.

So, an RO is expensive to buy and run. Can we remove chlorine from town water in a more cost-effective manner?

Fortunately, yes. The Aquafilter three-stage undersink water filtration system is designed to remove sediment and chlorine, and deliver good tasting water at the tap, directly from mains water. All the healthy minerals originally present in town water are retained. There is no storage of water, so no possibility of contamination by bacteria; there is no waste of water; there are no expensive moving parts that will need to be replaced at some point by a specialised technician; the filters are long-lasting (tested to last nine months for a family of four in Malta). The system is easy to install, and will last years without the need of a technican or spare parts.

The Aquafilter Drinking Water system can be bought as a DIY kit from Zahra Enterprises in Attard for only €75. A set of three replacement filters costs €21, making it the most cost-effective domestic water purification system on the Maltese market by far.         

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