Can you drink the tap water in Jamaica?
Answered by Lajune, Associate Writer
Can you drink the tap water in Jamaica? Yes, a resounding yes! I will explain in detail below. I will speak about the sources as well as the quality assurance that goes into it.
By the way, did you know that without food you could live for about three weeks but you would definitely expire after about three to four days without water? This is understandable though as water accounts for more than half of your body’s weight.
What does your body do with all this water? Good question. The body utilizes water in all cells, organs, and tissues to help standardize temperature and sustain other biological functions.
Since the body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it is essential to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water.
The quantity of water needed depends on a range of factors, including gender, climate, physical activity and well-being. The quality of your water is of vital importance since this commodity is most essential. No sense drinking water that makes you sick.
It has long been documented, that “The Land of Wood and Water” does have a high quality tap water. I remember hearing time and again how the various ports of call in Jamaica cater to the water needs of various pleasure and cargo ships with excellent feedback from the clients served. Ahhhh….. refreshing.
Jamaican Water Sources
Traditionally, rural Jamaicans get water from harvesting it from the roof of the typical dwelling house and storing the precious liquid in concrete tanks, old petroleum drums large plastic/metal containers and other more creative alternatives.
There are also various springs and rivers which serve entire communities.
More formal water sources range from the two existing dams of Mona and Hermitage, National Water Commission (NWC) Treatment Plants, Parish Council Catchment Tanks and strategically located wells in Jamaica.
In a bid to stay hydrated the busy, modern man uses petroleum by-products such as plastic bottles to transport and store water. These are much vaunted and of late many Jamaicans will only drink water from bottled sources. Never mind that they have done little or no research on the actual sources. Some even confuse spring water with purified water. Go figure.
Irresponsible methods of disposal of these convenience bottles now threaten the environment to the extent that many of these water containers end up in our landfill, drains, rivers, forests and beaches. They slowly destroy the environment by leeching their chemicals.
Anyway back on subject...
Can you drink the tap water in Jamaica?
Can you drink the tap water in Jamaica? Short answer – yes. Tap water is often healthier for you!
Jamaican water management protocols require frequent testing of tap water for microorganisms such as E.coli and Cryptosporidium and other harmful contaminants.
So yes, in Jamaica you can stick your glass under a tap fill it up and chug it down with no worries.
I think you may already know this but it’s worth repeating here; bottled water is often simply just treated tap water camouflaged by fancy labels and promoted by celebrities.
There is no obligation that bottled water manufacturers disclose the source of the bottled water unless it is mineral or spring water. Therefore, that costly bottle of water might be the same thing you could have had right out of your own kitchen sink.
Other Benefits Associated With Drinking Tap Water
- Fluoride - which reduces tooth decay. This can occur naturally or added through a process called Water Fluoridation.
In 2011 the World Health Organization recommended that fluoride level should be 0.5 to 1.5 mg/L (milligrams per litre), depending on climate, local environment, and other sources of fluoride. Bottled water in general though has mysterious fluoride levels.
- Drinking natural alkaline water is considered safe since it contains natural minerals the body needs.
However, caution should be exercised when consuming artificial alkaline water, which likely contains fewer minerals necessary for good health than its high pH, would have you believe. Overuse may leave you deficient in the very minerals you seek.
The National Water Commission (NWC) is the water boss; it is a state agency out of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
The NWC is solely responsible for the treatment and supply of tap water in Jamaica. To ensure that the water is safe for drinking, they subject the water to extensive state of the art treatment processes.
When untreated water is collected from various sources such as rivers or streams, or from underground reservoirs it is then introduce through pipes and transported to treatment plants.
At the treatment plant, equipment and chemicals ensure that the water is treated water and is safely distributed to customers.
Precise details vary depending on the type of treatment system available; the water treatment method usually involves five (5) distinctive junctures.
They are -
- Screening and Aeration
- Coagulation and Flocculation
- Sedimentation and Disinfection
The process described above is compressed based on the quality of the raw water source, the available treatment infrastructure, the preferred treatment method or other factors.
For example, water taken from aquifers via wells is usually only disinfected because this water is usually much purer than surface water as the earth acts as a natural filtration system before it comes to the surface.
Verification of water quality occurs at various intervals throughout the entire treatment process.
The National water commission keeps a close eye on the following:
- Total Coliform
- Total Faecal Coliform
- Total Solids
- Total Dissolved Solids
- Total Suspended Solids
- Total Plate Count
- Chemical Oxygen Demand
- Biochemical Oxygen Demand
... all too ensure the quality meets the Interim Jamaica Drinking Water Criteria and the World Health Organization (WHO) standards before it reaches the taps.
The NWC uses the Interim Jamaican Criteria developed from WHO guidelines to set the standards for the portability of water.
The NWC also conducts research and implements cost-effective solutions for the treatment of Jamaica's water supplies.
So rest assured that after these rigorous processes the water disbursed through the tap to you is quite safe for consumption.