Agua es Vida!
Water is life! It’s a well-known fact that the human body is made up of around 60% water, and the recommended daily intake for adults is at least 2 litres. Studies have shown that not getting enough water throughout the day can affect your mood, energy, weight, as well as day-to-day performance (both physical and mental), so making sure you’re getting enough H2O is clearly a priority.
However, the dilemma of where and how to source your drinking water in Mallorca can be a contentious topic; drinking from the taps raises eyebrows on a good day, yet these days it’s becoming an equally horrific crime to be a willing participant in the contribution to plastic pollution.
According to Palma town hall, the average Palma resident currently consumes 175 litres of water a year from plastic bottles. Not only this but a growing number of studies have revealed an alarmingly high amount of microplastics being found in commercially bottled water – another good reason to steer clear of plastic!
So, between the plastic contamination (potentially) affecting our health, plastic bottles continuing to pollute the environment, not to mention the ongoing physical and literal cost of lugging bottles of water to and from home and the supermarket, the burning question is: What are the alternatives to quenching one’s thirst in an environmentally and budget-friendly way? Stay with us dear reader! We have a number of solutions to ease your water woes.
No.7 Plastic has BPA and other contaminants found in breast cancers. For this and other reasons, No.7 are not recyclable and should never be reused.
Public Refill Stations #
I remember clearly the first time I drank fresh water from a natural spring. Whether or not my excitement at sampling such fresh natural water affected the taste is another matter entirely, but suffice to say that the taste was just so sweet it is a memory that has stayed with me for many years since. (My memory of drinking “fresh” water from a stream in Albania that turned out to be not so fresh is an entirely less than pleasant memory that we will put aside for now!)
Cleanwave is a not for profit company with a mission to provide free drinking water, and they have been reducing plastic waste and providing drinking water in the Balearic Islands since 2017. There is one public refill station (free for anyone to use – including restaurants and businesses) located near Placa del Mercat in Palma, and various private refill stations (for staff and clients/customers) located in other establishments around Mallorca.
Cleanwave announced 28 January 2021: "And the fountains keep rolling! We are especially excited about the installation of the latest public water fountain - right at the doorstep of Palma’s iconic Cathedral. The Cathedral, commonly known as La Seu, was built on the site of a Moorish-era mosque. Building started in 1229, but only finished in 1601 - taking almost 400 years to build. One cannot help but reflect on how the world has changed, and think of all the generations who have lived alongside this iconic structure. Our hope is that this public water fountain, will quench the thirst of many more still to come, and in so doing prevent thousands of plastic water bottles from polluting the beautiful island of Mallorca and the Mediterranean Sea. Once again - a big thank you to @EMAYApalma for your collaboration and making clean drinking water accessible to all - plastic free!!"
Please note: The photo below was taken pre-COVID.
Natural Springs or Fuentes #
Please note: Spring sources are closed at this time, due to COVID.
Another free and palatable option to whet your whistle is to find a natural spring or ‘fuente’ where you can fill up – for free! There are a number of these dotted across the island, simply use google maps to search for “fuente de agua potable” for a substantive list or check out www.findaspring.com for a couple more*. If you are lucky enough to have access to a natural fresh water source, thank your lucky stars and get your containers ready!
*Please note that we have been unable to check all of the springs on Google or Find a Spring for accuracy/reliability. Best bet is to take your bottles and go for a drive to your closest spring to check it out. Worst case scenario you’ll have a bit of an adventure in a new spot!
Some verified springs that we have used include:
- Font de s’Ermita on the East of the island, near Artà
- Lluc recreation and barbecue area – at the time of writing, this one seemed to be quite popular as there were a number of people waiting to fill up in the middle of the hailstorm last weekend!
- Sa Font D’Alt, Esporles is located in the recreation area of Son Tries
Water Filtration Systems #
A second option for sourcing clean drinking water is an in-home filtration system. In terms of convenience, affordability, quality of the water, and caring for the environment, this would definitely be a winning choice. There are numerous different options for water filtration systems in your home; ranging from the basic level – a water jug with built-in, replaceable filter, to a full in-home installation, and many, many in between.
One of the latest brilliant designs are filter systems you simply install yourself, directly onto the tap (search "Faucet Tap Water Filter" or "Filtro para grifo" on Google). The clear benefit here is that even if you are renting or living somewhere short-term, this simple and effective solution removes the need for a big upfront cost or installation complications, and can be taken with you when you move.
Furthermore, it reduces the need for plastic receptacles (as you can fill your glass or bottle directly from the tap), and you will no longer need to transport heavy bottles of water to your home – not to mention avoiding potentially ingesting microplastics in the bottled water.
Bite the Bullet and Drink From the Tap #
Yes, we talk about the nasty chemicals in the tap water, however it may surprise you to know that the tap water in Palma is considered safe to drink, and – coming from someone who proudly (and maybe a bit lazily) drinks it – I can verify that generally speaking, the taste is absolutely fine.
Having spent all my life living in countries where it’s safe and acceptable to drink the tap water, I wasn’t prepared to just “follow the crowd” when everyone advised me against drinking from the tap in Palma, and did my own research. Surprisingly, I discovered that not only is the water safe to drink, but it could have health benefits! Some recent studies have shown that not only does water with high mineral content NOT cause kidney stones (contrary to the very popular belief), but that there could be significant health benefits to drinking hard water including contribution to overall calcium and magnesium intake and protection against cerebrovascular disease.
Some fantastic news for those considering taking to the tap, the government of Palma has recently announced a significant project to improve its municipal water, aimed at increasing overall water consumption from the taps. This will see water quality improved, and the capacity of water flow increased. So perhaps one day in the not too distant future, we may see drinking tap water in Palma become more of a normal habit.
When it comes to the rest of Mallorca, especially the more rural areas, it might be a different matter though. Many rustic properties are not connected to the water mains and have their tap water pumped up from their own well or a water tank they regularly refill with water delivered by truck. Most of these water tanks are connected to the downspouts to collect rain water - which is wonderfully soft and great to have your shower or wash your hair. Whether it's safe to drink, however, you cannot be so sure unless you test water quality regularly (kits can be bought online or in your local pharmacy). In this case it might be best to use a filter.
Whether you prefer to boldly take the path less trodden and drink from the tap; explore the island and find a fuente close by; or opt for convenience and efficiency by investing in a filtration system, whichever your choice, know that you’re taking one step forward in reducing plastic waste, while keeping healthy and hydrated at the same time.
Cheers to drinking water!
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By Jessica Tatam
28 January, 2021