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There seems to be some contradictory information on Georgian tap water around.

I was in Georgia recently (May 2012) for nearly a week, and mostly stayed in Tbilisi (in a hostel in an old building near the old town). Everyone at the hostel told me the tap water is ok, and I did drink it all the time without problems. Even the taste was ok to me.

However, I just came across a site called canidrinkthewater.org which claims the following:

Can you drink the water in Georgia? No.

If harbored, a parasite commonly known as Giardia, will settle in the intestines of infected humans and cause a number of discomforts such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. That is why it is advised for people living and visiting Georgia to stay away from the local water supply. If you want to know, “is the water safe to drink in Georgia?” A strong No is the answer.

Now, I'd like to set the record straight on this. Was I just lucky for not getting ill, and were the people at the hostel wrong? Or is canidrinkthewater.org out-of-date or just plain unreliable, at least when it comes to Georgia?

(To assess the site's trustworthiness a little, I read entries on a few other countries, and those were mostly consistent with my experiences. The site does not seem to cite any sources, but it does provide a form for reporting incorrect info.)

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Curiously, for Turkey that site just says "Yes", while Travel SE gives a pretty clear impression that you're better off with bottled water there... –  Jonik May 27 '12 at 21:49
    
Maybe the people at the hostel are talking about the hostel only? Maybe there is a filter in that particular hostel thats why they told you its ok while in Grorgia itself is not ok.. –  MeNoTalk May 27 '12 at 23:07
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@HaLaBi: No, I've been told consistently everywhere I've been that the tapwater is good to drink. It tastes better than the tapwater in Sydney. Locals here never seem to buy water unless they want fizzy mineral water or if the water supply is cut off (for repairs or upgrades etc). –  hippietrail May 28 '12 at 1:33
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3 Answers 3

It's tough to make one general blanket statement about the water and sanitation system for an entire country with it being accurate everywhere in the country. Plugging in some places I've traveled gives similar results to what you and Jonik have noted...while it's not bad overall, it's not very precise, like for example, in Costa Rica, our travel guides said it was ok to drink or brush your teeth with the water in San Jose but not Jaco Beach, whereas this guide suggests ok for the country as a whole. It seems to be a good starting point to assess the overall condition, but not perhaps detailed enough to address every case.

Information on lonely planet about the Republic of Georgia seems to agree with your take that others also say it's "mostly safe but not the best choice" to drink the tap water in Tbilisi, but many other parts of Georgia have very bad water. Ie: there's some risk, but overall the water in that city is ok.

Perhaps more useful, a report by the Global Water Partnership, details out the sources for where the Republic of Georgia gets its drinking water, the main sources of contamination, and so forth. The bottom line appears to be that overall, the water quality isn't great overall, however some cities do have sanitation systems and/or treatment facilities for their water, though many are in a state of disrepair or decaying. Also, many of the water systems are controlled a fairly local level, with variation in competence of the sanitation facilities. So, basically, when it comes to the Rpublic of Georgia, there's a lot of variation in how well water is treated and the condition of the pipes and so forth, so whether the drinking water is going to be safe to drink depends on how well the sanitation system in that particular city is functioning and it's overall condition.

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We were advised that the water is safe to drink all over Georgia from taps to fountains, creeks etc. We drank everywhere and the water tasted beautiful adn we were not sick at all.

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Whatever is causing the diarrhea and other symptoms, it's real and the Georgians seems to be immune to it.

Almost every tourist we've met had similar problems after a few days in Georgia. Most of them get rid of them avoiding tap water (drinking only a bottled water) and Georgian cheese (very delicious).

On the other hand, we've seen a group of Georgian boys drinking water from garden hose. This water came from pastures, and was contaminated by excrement. I you look on any survival or camping forum, there will always be red warning against drinking such water even after boiling!

So the answer is: it strongly depends on your immune system. I'm used to camping and drinking water from streams, and I've developed the symptoms of diarrhea on the last day, drinking really a lot of tap water all the time (it could be, however, the effect of drinking too much chacha 2 days before ;) My companions were sick after 2-3 days, and were abstaining from tap water from that time. Georgian shepherds were drinking water, that is considered deadly hazard by western survival experts, without any side effects.

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Hmm, I wonder why my experience in Tbilisi was so different: people at the hostel were drinking tap water and I didn't hear of any problems due to that. I suspect there's a lot of regional variation in Georgian water quality. –  Jonik Oct 19 '13 at 1:01
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