drinking water in Central- and South-America

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by Panny, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Jul 11, 2004
    somewhere in south america
    I like a few others here drank tap water throughout South America, including Cartegena. The only time I didnt was when it came out yellow from the tap, I drew the line.

    Interestingly enough, I did get sick once, when I switched to bottled water in Lima for god knows why.
  2. Chiriqui Charlie

    Chiriqui Charlie Been here awhile

    Oct 11, 2011
    Panama Highlands
    Read an article some time ago about tests on bottled water. Results-- some brands were no different than the locally available tap water! And some unscrupulous vendors fill bottles directly from the tap. I bought a filter pump for traveling through CA, but never used it. I now live in the highlands of Panama, have been drinking the local water for years with no ill effects. The one time I got an amoeba, I suspected a large salad in a restaurant.
  3. Apocalipsis FZR

    Apocalipsis FZR I´m too old for this....

    May 14, 2009
    Buenos Aires , Argentina
    I ve the luck to spend 10 years of my professional life working for a French Company that its heavily related to water and sewer systems (Suez Lyonnaisse des Aux, owner of Degremont, Nalco and several other Companies). Part of my job was to construct water pipelines , water threatment plants and Sewerage plants (for the Chileneans´Inmates, last one I participated in was LA Farfana, outside Santiago).
    Apart from Argentina and Chile where the Tap water must be drinkable (its a Federal Law there) in other Countries the quality of the Tap service differ from City to city.

    Some cities have "Current water" (notice that "drinkable" is not written, like Rio de Janeiro, or Maputo in Mozambique), while others can be drinked depending on the part of the city you are (like Santa cruz de la sierra in Bolivia or La Habana in Cuba).

    Anyway, the South American system we use everyday, is the following:

    • First of all, and NO matter the status or quality of the tap water, priorize the use of beer.
      Remember, water is used by Fish in order to have SEX.
    • We ask the locals, if they tell you that the water is good, the first 2 days dont drink it (use bottled water instead), but use it to wash your teeth, ice cubes, MATE, coffe or tea. After 2 days, start using it for everything, but remember point 1.
    • If the local tell you that the water is no good, ask them what they do in order to drink and replicate their action.
      If that is insecure, drink MATE or any other infussion (hot or cold), but remember point 1.

  4. miguelitro

    miguelitro Chuchaqui

    Nov 4, 2008
    Salinas, Santa Elena, Ecuador
    I drink filtered tap at the in law's house in Quito but down here at the beach no way. Our tap comes from various unknown sources and is put into tanks or cisterns that are not so clean. you should see how fast we get shower mold from the live water!
    one tip if you are staying a few days somewhere-
    pay the deposit on a 5 gallon and the 1.25$ish for the water. drop it off on your way out of town and get your deposit back.
  5. cliffy109

    cliffy109 Long timer

    May 11, 2009
    Spotsylvania, VA
    I would never presume to tell you what things are like in the entire continent, but I recently visited Chile and Argentina and never had a problem with tap water. In fact, even in remote areas where there were signs telling you to put used toilet paper in the trash can, the tap water was still fine. I carried a bottle and filled it at hotels and gas station bathrooms.
  6. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Adios Mexico

    Mar 4, 2008
    Back in Seattle, FINALLY
    Actually I've heard that Monterrey is the only municipality in Mexico that supplies safe drinking water. Agreed though, too many macho cavalier travellers tell everyone it's ok to drink the water here because they did and they didn't have any problems. If you're just passing through and want to roll the dice, be my guest, but if you're living here long term the odds catch up to you pretty quickly. Believe me, there's a reason that everyone (and I mean almost literally everyone) here buys bottled water.
  7. Driftin

    Driftin Been here awhile

    Dec 8, 2005
    Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
    Costa Rican tap water is, as a rule, safe to drink as long as it is provided by the government. I have done so since 2001 and had no ill affects that I can attribute to doing so. The majority of expats here do the same. In fact, the water here is far and away better tasting than the sulfer laden swill I almost never drank in Florida.

    The CR national Minesterio de Salud is extremely powerful (and watchful) and the water authority, AyA, seem to be quite efficient. Most of the water comes from deep aquifer sources here and is monitored according to 1st world standards. Ticos take the safety of their drinking water quite seriously.

    Costa Rica, yeah we're more expensive but you can drink the water.
  8. Dan Man

    Dan Man ex-adventurer

    Oct 5, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    Ive drank the water from Alaska to Argentina with the exception of Mexico out of the fear struck into me from the US fearmongers.

    I drank the Quito tap water for months before I was told I should not. Not sure why though. Sometimes I drink it, but usually get the huge water tanks.

    Here is what I am wondering. Even if you don't get sick isn't it still possible to intake some parasites or other things that may cause damage down the line?
  9. Idahosam

    Idahosam Set Adrift

    May 23, 2006
    Back in the Saddle
    During my travels I carried with me a Steripen. Didn't need it all the time as most places I stayed at had 5 gallon carboys of water to drink from. A few times I did use tap water from my hotel filling my liter bottle and sterilized it with my steripen... 90 seconds for a liter of water. I kept it more or less as a back-up. A long time ago during my backpacking days I use to boil stream water and never had a problem.



    Safe Travels..