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Before moving to Munich I did some research about the water. According to different sources, the water quality in Munich is very good and there is no problem drinking it.

But every time I'm in a store I see locals buying large amounts of bottled water. Is there a reason for that?

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    In Munich, real locals don't buy bottled water; they buy bottled Augustiner-Bräu. – Loong Sep 19 '16 at 21:16
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    Somewhat related: "Polish tap water is perfectly safe, but the social consequences of drinking it can be serious. I’ve been drinking the stuff for years and it’s never done me any physical harm but I’m regarded as some kind of madman by my Polish acquaintances. For reasons that I’ve never been able to clearly discern Poles regard their tap water as a kind of slightly diluted strychnine cordial." polandian.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/… – user46435 Sep 20 '16 at 11:54
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    As far as many germans are concerned 'drinking water' means sparkling water. So probably you are seeing people buying sparkling water. – Jonathan Sep 20 '16 at 13:01
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    Successful Marketing. – Apfelsaft Sep 20 '16 at 14:14
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    You know what Evian spelled backwards is? ;-) – Mason Wheeler Sep 20 '16 at 17:48

14 Answers 14

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I live in Prague where the water is equally safe to drink and tastes well, however plenty of people still buy bottled water. The reasons are:

  1. Different flavors. Bottled water comes in a variety of tastes and levels of carbonation, which is obviously unavailable from the tap. As suggested by long-time resident @Relaxed, this is part of the German affinity towards sparkling drinks. 83% of Germans buy fizzy drinks, so this reason probably explains the behaviour of 4 out of 5 Germans.

  2. Not trusting the local water supply. Although studies have shown bottled water isn't necessarily any safer.

  3. Old habits. Other regions have water that is not safe to drink or has a strong mineral taste, so people from those regions might be used to bottled water.

  4. Better taste. Some people think bottled water has a more pleasant taste. Although this has been shown to be a bias that doesn't pass the scrutiny of a blind test.

  5. Convenience. People drink water outside their homes too and buying a bottle is more convenient than refilling one at the tap.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mark Mayo Sep 21 '16 at 9:38
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    Also, bottled water is transportable. You can take it with you if you are thirsty later, where no fountain or tap might be nearby – Lukas_Skywalker Sep 21 '16 at 19:35
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    @Lukas_Skywalker SRSLY? Like you can't fill a water bottle from the tap and take it along? – Carl Witthoft Sep 22 '16 at 0:52
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    @RaoulMensink correct, your logic explains the behavior of 83% of German consumers, as outlined in my answer ;) – JonathanReez Sep 22 '16 at 12:47
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    I know gyms that (likely) intentionally have very shallow wash basins; it is almost impossible to hold a flask of any noticeable size below it to fill it with water. Those places usually sell water at the counter, for laughable prices... – AnoE Sep 22 '16 at 13:25
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https://www.swm.de/privatkunden/m-wasser/qualitaet.html This website belongs to the Stadtwerke Munich. They state that

Alle Werte von M-Wasser liegen weit unter den gesetzlich vorgeschriebenen Grenzen. Dadurch eignet sich M-Wasser hervorragend als Trinkwasser und sogar ausgezeichnet zur Zubereitung von Babynahrung. Durch seine lebenswichtigen Mineralstoffe ist es auch ein erfrischender Bestandteil einer gesunden Ernährung.

Translates as

All values of M(unich)-water are far below the statutory limits. As a result, M-water is ideal for drinking and even excellent for preparing baby food. Due to its essential minerals, it is also a refreshing part of a healthy diet.

You can even download the values of the water analysis there.

Germans buy water bottles because they like water with gas or they don't like the taste of tap water (look up the answer by JonathanReez).

In addition, some buildings are a bit older and probably have old drains, so in some buildings the water tastes a bit like iron. I live in Germany and drink only tap water and would most often not recognize the taste of tap water. ;)

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    Studys regularly conclude that most tap water is even better than many bottled mineral waters. This one from the current year has a good overview (in German). Here is a summary for Munich (also German) – Josef Sep 20 '16 at 11:46
  • «it is also a refreshing part of a healthy diet» Well, the fact that water should be part of a diet is kinda obvious. :P – Andrea Lazzarotto Sep 20 '16 at 14:55
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    "old drains": I think you mean "old pipes". It's only a drain when it's taking away used water, not bringing in new water. BTW, bottled water is popular in other parts of the world with good drinking water. I live in Halifax, Canada, and there are vending machines full of bottled water at gyms and sports facilities, next to the water fountain. Our tap water has won taste tests for best-tasting municipal water in the region (and isn't noticeably different from bottled water when I've tried some), yet some people would rather buy a new bottle than refill one. – Peter Cordes Sep 22 '16 at 1:10
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    I'm not sure about for consumption at home. Some people buy water to drink at home, but I don't think it's common. The German preference for sparkling water isn't a factor here. – Peter Cordes Sep 22 '16 at 1:11
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Tap water in Munich is safe to drink and in my opinion also tastes good. This is the case for practically all German public water supplies, although they do vary a bit in taste (at least to my water-trained tongue).

Being from Bavaria, a bit south of Munich, there are three reasons why one would not want tap water:

  • Sparkling water. Germans go crazy for it and most other nations just shake their heads. Indeed, while ordering water in most countries will get you natural water, in Germany you are most likely to get sparkling water.

  • Carrying it. If you are not in a house with a tap you won’t have tap water. Bringing your own water bottle from home comes with complications (you need to refill it, you only have as much as you carried, etc) so people will buy bottled water for simplicity.

  • Perceived hardness. Munich’s and the surrounding area’s water is one of the hardest in Germany. People perceive mineral water as less hard (even though after comparing analyses there is no difference).

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    Drinking water without sparkling has no whatsoever reason to exist ;-) Greetings from Stuttgart. – Uwe Keim Sep 20 '16 at 22:11
  • "Sparkling water. Germans go crazy for it" - indeed, I know several people here in Germany who call any non-sparkling (or less sparkling) water "dead water". – O. R. Mapper Sep 23 '16 at 5:17
  • @O.R.Mapper I do that myself, but with the addition ‘I don’t eat living things only those that are already dead’ ;) – Jan Sep 23 '16 at 16:46
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Usually because the sparkling water from the bottles tastes different than boring tap water. Also the quality of your tap water depends on where it comes from. We in Stuttgart have Bodensee-Wasser, which is pretty clean and soft, while villages around here often use water from wells which is usually harder. Also, your in-house-water-pipes might be made from iron, which is worse than copper or super old stuff has even lead. There was also an incident lately where the people in Frankenthal had to cook their water prior to use because of some leak.

But basically it's the taste (plain tap water vs sparkly bottle), although I don't get then why people buy water PET bottles.

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    I am from the Bodensee. We think it's funny that Stuttgarters drink from our swimming hole. (Yes, I know, they filter it.) – RedSonja Sep 21 '16 at 8:50
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Old habits die hard. If you are brought up drinking bottled water, you continue to do so even after local water improves.

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Germans use generally to drink water from Mineralbrunnen (where water with a high amount of minerals come from). So there are many companies surrounding those water sources and make money. There`s no real evidence it is healthier because the body cannot absorb much of the minerals.

Water with higher minerals content is sold as sparkling water, reduced sparkling water and without any sparkling (translated silent water.. funny eh). So you can say even non sparkling water is different to tap water.

Statistics time: 70 % of Germany drink it every day. The statistics below says water with reduced sparkling is the most bought water directly followed by sparkling water. The overall consume raised in the last 40 years from 12,5 liters to 143,6 liters, a whooping 1000%. enter image description here

Since this is more a thing of religion (believe it or not) the water quality is scientifically proofed as very drinkable (tap and sold water). It is not a health risk, the controls are very strict. Some even say the tap water standards are higher than the standard of the selling companies (which is only theoretical because of the not so much tested tubes that lead to you tap). Anyway don`t buy it, drink it from the tap!

Edit personal experiences: And yeah, I drink tap water in munich and apart from full time crazyness I´m still healthy I wrote 'very drinkable' above because I have the experience that tap water in Germany was often much better than bottled water elsewhere. Usually drink plain water while on travels and though I was so often amazed by the countrys dishes I sometimes really wondered what they put in their bottled water.


Source: Spiegel Online - Original statistic by "Verband Deutscher Mineralbrunnen e.V."

Some more numbers: Info brochure of the "Verband Deutscher Mineralbrunnen e.V."

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    (+1 for the stats) A couple remarks: “wenig“ does not mean “reduced” but “a little” (and actually, sparkling water in Germany, stuff like Bonaqa, is extremely sparkling by other countries' tastes, so “wenig CO2” just means regular fizzy water). Also, it's not “chloroforme” that's in the water, let alone “fills” it, and could you spare us the usual nonsense about stuff in Germany being better than bottled water elsewhere? – Relaxed Sep 21 '16 at 9:36
  • You're right, in the statistics it's "wenig". Took the word "reduced" because it's normally on the bottles ("reduzierter Kohlensäuregehalt"). Didn`t get the chloroforme part.. what is it then when it tastes like that, surely would edit mys post. I had some examples but deleted them because it was no contest. Some things in Germany have a very very higher standards, one of them is water. I experienced that a lot of times so why is that nonesense? No Germany loving bretzel glasses on.. just my opinion – Marc Wittmann Sep 21 '16 at 9:51
  • About "chloroforme": it's chlorine, another compound than chloroform and the water is seldom "filled" with it. About the rest: Germans tend to think that by default and are very rigid about their way of doing things, I don't think there are strong reasons for it. Many places in Germany have sub-par infrastructure, many countries in Europe have essentially equivalent standards, for water or other things. So I think the whole paragraph is a distraction that makes you look naive and chauvinistic in the context of this otherwise very valuable answer. – Relaxed Sep 21 '16 at 10:08
  • But you do want you want, I don't care too much and like I said, I already upvoted the answer! – Relaxed Sep 21 '16 at 10:09
  • Alright, thx for the chlorine part – Marc Wittmann Sep 21 '16 at 11:04
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Tap Water in Germany is the best controlled food in Germany. And I do really mean the best.

The control system, the maximum values for anything inside the water are in such a high standards that it is more safe to drink tap water in Germany than anywhere else in the world. The controlling is much safer and more regulated than it is for bottled water (yes that is true, and crazy for german law but it is!).

You can find more bacteria and anything else in bottled water (but it is still way more safe than anywhere else in the world) than you find it in tap water.

It is also much cheaper if you live in germany as I pay like 1 or 2 cent per litre tap water compared to at least 15-20 cent per litre for cheap bottled water.

I never buy any bottled water for my usage at home and sports - and if you really don't need sparkling water like me you are best to choose tap water.

Note the taste of water is really different for the regions in germany as different geographical situations will make a difference in the composition of minerals in the water - this may be a reason you do not like the tap water in the area you live but I never experienced a region where it was undrinkable for a tasting reason.

  • German water quality is great but your claim "that it is more safe to drink tap water in Germany than anywhere else in the world" is dubious at best. There are plenty of places with high standards and I would doubt that e.g. Swiss or Norwegian water is any worse. – neo Sep 20 '16 at 15:48
  • No it is Not. Scandinavian Countries or switzerland still have a lot of regions that are Not connected to a central water system (I so know this because I have a House in sweden and do know some people in switzerland). If you feel to say there Are other countries with high standards- yes there Are and this is Great! No affront! – Stefan Sep 20 '16 at 15:52
  • What about, say, France, then? – Relaxed Sep 20 '16 at 15:56
  • @Stefan There are plenty of houses in Germany not connected to a central water system as well (though probably much less than in remote Scandinavian places). – neo Sep 20 '16 at 15:56
  • Don't they have chlorine in the water? At least I remember that taste like in the US. But still: No affront... – Stefan Sep 20 '16 at 15:57
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It's just a fashion statement.

If you drink free water from a public drinking fountain with your hand, or demand tap-water in a restaurant you are a cheapskate with no taste buds.

If you carry a little plastic bottle everywhere, and drink expensive trillion year old glacier water, imported from Mars and bottled by red-haired virgins, you must be cool.

Me, I'm a cheapskate. I like tap-water. It tastes different in every town.

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    Indeed, bottled water is the ultimate marketing trick. And if you look at the amount sold in countries where tap water is perfectly fine, people fall for it. – Jan Doggen Sep 21 '16 at 9:43
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    Where can you get this trillion year old glacier water, imported from Mars and bottled by red-haired virgins? I would like to try some as it sounds kind of cool. – Noctis Skytower Sep 21 '16 at 16:46
  • @Noctis Skytower Don't fall for it, I always had my doubts about those redheads. – RedSonja Sep 22 '16 at 7:26
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Germans do not drink (simple, regular, still) water. If you order a Mineralwasser in a café or restaurant, you will get sparkling water (it's not the legal definition but that's what you will get). You won't get tap water with a meal like you do in some neighbouring countries. At home, people drink soft drinks, beer, wine, coffee (with meals, not only before, after or on its own), fruit juice (or juice-based drinks like Apfelschorle) or sparkling water. What you saw is simply people buying sparkling water, the rest (and in particular the quality or taste of tap water) is secondary.

  • It can be true, but I have seen a lot of people in the Netherlands, where tap water is equally safe, buy bottled water which is not sparkling nor has added taste. I have also seen that happen in other countries but have not been in Munich or the area. – Willeke Sep 20 '16 at 15:49
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    @Willeke That's not relevant. Also, water in the Netherlands is not equally safe. It's notorious as the one European country to eschew chlorination and that does matter. – Relaxed Sep 20 '16 at 15:54
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    @Relaxed, at every test I have ever seen, the water quality in my local area came out as more safe, more clean and containing the right minerals and better quality than bottled water, but still people buy bottled water which has the same taste. Chlorination is not always needed, it is a myth. And Chlorine does make water less good tasting. – Willeke Sep 20 '16 at 15:58
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    "Germans do not drink (simple, regular, still) water." I present one specimen which is German and does drink simple, regular, still water. In restaurants, you can actually order tap water ("Leitungswasser") and will (at least in Munich and similar cities with exceptional water quality) get water right from the tap. Usually have to pay for it anyway, of course, it's Munich after all. – AnoE Sep 21 '16 at 8:32
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    @AnoE Yeah, this is specimen no. 2. Yet I keep getting weird looks when I order it, every now and again. We all know how uncommon it is. – Jan Sep 21 '16 at 9:32
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In most places in Germany, it's perfectly safe to drink tap water. If not, it will be in the local media, that something is wrong and you should not drink it.

But many Germans just don't like tap water. Some don't like the taste, others want gas in their water and I already heard the argument, that the quality of bottled water is better (which is not true).

The taste (and quality) varies from region to region. For example in the Alps, the tap water is really good so there are less people buying bottled water than in big cities.

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I think this question is the same as "Is it safe to cook and eat food in NY NY, if so why do the locals go to restaurants?" People don't always do thing for perfectly rational reasons (in fact they seldom do). Why do people buy expensive coffee at chain coffee places that taste worse than home brewed? People sometimes do things out of habit or for status or convenience. Also casual observation is not the same thing as fact. It may look like lots of locals are buying bottled water but the impression might be wrong (most might not be doing so).

  • I think you missed the "convenience" factor -- It's not quite fair to dismiss people that go to restaurants or coffee shop as "irrational", I like an occasional latte and don't want to spend the money to purchase quality equipment, or the time to learn how to make my own, so I'm happy to pay someone else $3 to do it. Likewise, even though I can cook, I don't really want to cook an elaborate meal and am happy to pay someone else $20 to do it for me. – Johnny Sep 22 '16 at 2:11
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    Johnny when you say I missed the 'convenience' factor I'm wondering if you actually read my post which has a sentence "People sometimes do things out of habit or for status or convenience". And in my post I'm not dismissing people who go to restaurants and coffee chains specifically but instead saying people are usually irrational (in most behaviors); but if you bring it up... the coffee chains are pretty nutty because I can make black coffee at home (obviously I can't do this on the road) that blows the stuff at the big chains away for a fraction of the cost. – Dan S Sep 22 '16 at 12:00
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You can carry bottled water with you, in your backpack, in your briefcase, in your car, on your bike, when running.
You can put it in the fridge.
And, as many mentioned, it is nearly always sparkling water. It is rather difficult (and often expensive) to get non-carbonated water. Finally, although some people buy bottled water, not everyone does.

  • I love to see you running with a couple of the 2 liter bottles which many people use. Not much new in this 'answer'. You make the same assumptions as several earlier answers it is sparkling water, which is in no way sure. – Willeke Sep 21 '16 at 8:45
  • @Willeke It's not an assumption, it's a simple observation. It's surprising to see people who are obviously not so familiar with Germany be so willing to speculate based on their experience elsewhere and ask, no, demand that people who do know Germany provide some form of special evidence to counter their own assumptions that are based on exactly nothing at all. I note that you and Jonathan dance around the question with various unconvincing arguments to the effect that you are not sure but nobody with any familiarity with Germany has come forward to simply state “this is not true”. – Relaxed Sep 21 '16 at 9:02
  • If you don't have any positive reason to doubt it, just accept what people who do know are telling you! – Relaxed Sep 21 '16 at 9:08
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    As a matter of fact you can carry tap-water with you, in your backpack, in your briefcase, in your car, on your bike, when running. Just put in in a bottle! (no offense, sorry had to say that) – Marc Wittmann Sep 21 '16 at 9:36
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    @Willeke , I am German and lived for 40 years in Germany. It is not an 'assumption'. – Aganju Sep 21 '16 at 10:22
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Water in Munich is very hard. Therefore some reasons for buying bottled water are:

  • Some people don't like the taste.
  • In particular electric water boilers get covered with sediments very quickly.
  • Tea made of such hard water is often not that tasty.

As mentioned in other posts, tap water in Munich is otherwise of great quality and perfectly safe.

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    As mentioned in my answer (after a comment), bottled water is typically as hard as tap water (I didn’t know that). Electric boilers are not relevant, since we are not talking about warm bathing water. And I haven’t seen anybody yet make tea from bottled water. – Jan Sep 22 '16 at 16:47
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An important reason that's missing is marketing and brand. Buying choices do not have to be smart, in fact they rarely are.

People buy water bottles because of:

  • Good advertising/brand building for bottled waters.
  • Because they need water bottles, to conveniently drink water during the day.
  • They like sparkling water.
  • Habits, for people who changed from sparkling water to still water.
  • Personal dislike of certain flavors in their tap water .

protected by Mark Mayo Sep 21 '16 at 9:38

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