• Stefanie and Mallory

Tap water

Authors: Bastiaan Beth & Lyanne Spittje

The Dutch tap water belongs to the top ranking of the world when it comes to population with access to improved drinking water sources and improved sanitation, including pit latrines and toilets. (‘Top ranking for Dutch water supply and treatment in global 2014 EPI’, 2014) This access to clean tap water comes with a lot of advantages, like reduction in use of plastic bottles. Before looking at all the advantages of clean tap water, let’s first take a look at how this level of water quality has been achieved and preserved. The government has set three different forms of water quality preservation. (‘Kwaliteit Drinkwater Beschermen’, n.d.) First of all, the tap water has to meet certain criteria. These criteria contain for instance the maximum amount of certain materials that may be present in the water, for instance 1 micrograms of mercury per 1 liter of water. All of the criteria are based on the EU drinking water directive. The second form of water quality preservation is done by setting requirements for companies that install and produce water distribution systems, like water pipes and taps. These companies have to meet up to these requirements in order to make sure the water does not get polluted in the distribution phase. The third and last way the government tries to secure the water quality is by obliging drink water companies to check the water quality and reporting back to the government. These policies all contribute to the outstanding water quality as it is today. The way policies on tap water are formed, is extraordinary in comparison to other policy-making processes in countries like the United States. This is because of the supranational organ, the EU, who sets a framework of minimum requirements, but does give countries the freedom to determine further norms by themselves. This way of governance is relatively new. Sabel and Zeitlin (2010) state in their article on Experimentalist Governance in the European Union that this way of governing will not last in its current form. Conflicts on accountability and legitimacy will cause this new way of governance to have unsuccessful outcomes. However, the Dutch tap water is a great example of a positive outcome of this way of governing.

The effects of clean tap water can be seen in multiple ways. First of all, the amount of diseases caused by polluted water is nihil compared to countries like the United State and Great Britain. (‘Internationaal onderzoek: Nederlands drinkwater van topkwaliteit’, 2016)

In addition, the usage and waste of plastic bottles can be reduced to a minimum, which will be a benefit to the environment.

Another benefit is out of financial perspective. The price of tap water differs per municipality and water supplier. The average price of tap water is around 0,90 Euros per 1000 liters of water at the time of writing. (‘Tarieven en Voorwaarden’, 2018) In comparison to bottled water (Spa Reine: 0,69 Euros per liter, 690,00 Euros per 1000 liters), tap water is extremely cheap for the quality it delivers. Moreover, research has shown that tap water in the municipality of Utrecht was exactly the same as bottled water of Sourcy and Bar-le-Duc. (‘Teun van de Keuken kan het niet vaak genoeg zeggen: 'Drink kraanwater, mensen'’, 2018) Dutch citizens can in this way enjoy clean tap water, which meets the same standards as bottled water, for just a fraction of the price.


Sabel, C.F & Zeitlin, J. (Eds). (2010). Experimentalist Governance in the European Union: Towards a New Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press.


Internationaal onderzoek: Nederlands drinkwater van topkwaliteit. (2016). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from:

Kwaliteit Drinkwater Beschermen (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from:

Tarieven en Voorwaarden. (2018). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from:

Teun van de Keuken kan het niet vaak genoeg zeggen: 'Drink kraanwater, mensen'. (2018). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from:

Top ranking for Dutch water supply and treatment in global 2014 EPI. (2014) Retrieved March 11, 2018, from:

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This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No694266)