Today we wanted to share some information we learned from an interesting article we read by isturkeysafe.com. We thought this would be useful for anyone, either visiting Turkey or moving to Turkey. It’s reasonable to say that it’s important to know about the local water safety and habits of Turkey or any country you are planning to visit. So is it safe to drink the tap water in Turkey?
In general, it is said that yes, it is safe to drink tap water in Turkey. The Tap water in Turkey is pre-treated in water treatment facilities by the ISKI (Water authority of Istanbul) and said to be drinkable, however, we have also read that within the larger cities there are old pipelines and water tanks in some buildings that can cause water contamination. This is out of ISKI control. To avoid contamination, there is a trace amount of free chloride within the water, which is difficult to notice. But due to this chloride and long retention time in the pipes, the water in Istanbul may not taste or smell as good as soft natural groundwater that you can find in more rural areas of Turkey. Locals tend to have a very delicate taste and prefer not to drink the tap water.
So, officially, it is said that tap water in Istanbul is safe and clean potable water. However, looking at how it is used and thought of by the locals & people who live there, it is generally seen as unsafe to drink tap water in Turkey. Tap water is safe for cleaning & cooking purposes but not really safe for drinking. In some smaller cities tap water may be clean enough to drink, but generally in big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir etc, are out of this scope. For this reason, bottled water should be preferred if you cannot be sure of the source of the water.
Here is what the article said & explains in more detail:
Tap water resources in the major cities are as follows:
- Istanbul – From dams
- Ankara – From dams
- Izmır – From dams and groundwater
- Antalya (Alanya) – From groundwater
- Mugla (Bodrum) – From groundwater
For cities using dams as a drinking water source, the water from the dams is not clean enough to drink, even if the water is purified. For this reason, chlorine is often added to the water for disinfection (water chlorination). From time to time you can see white foam when you fill tap water into a glass in Istanbul, which shows chlorine in the water. Although local authorities may insist that the tap water is clean enough to drink, you will probably prefer not to drink it because of the smell you get when you drink. On the other hand, for cities using underground water as a source of drinking water such as Antalya & Bodrum for example, the tap water may be clean enough to drink. Groundwater is much cleaner than dams, but because of the high degree of hardness, it may not be as tasteful when drank.
Old water pipes
One of the most important issues to be mentioned about tap water in Turkey is the water pipes. Only metal pipes were used for plumbing until the 2000s in Turkey. Materials such as steel, cast iron & copper were commonly used in buildings, and where the average period of healthy use of these pipes are between 10-50 years, in most cases they have been left for longer in Turkey.
So due to these reasons, many of the buildings that were built before 2000s, may have rust in their pipes. You won’t experience this situation in a hotel as hotels seem to be in use all time, but when you turn on a faucet that has not been turned on for a few days, you will sometimes see yellow discoloured water due to the accumulated rust. In this case, even if you have heard that the water is drinkable in your area, it would be more appropriate not to drink it by taking into consideration the water pipes. But this is only the case in older buildings as all newer buildings will not have this problem.
Ask the locals
If you were to ask the local people in big cities, you will learn that at most of their houses, bottled water is drank. On the other hand, at some houses, since tap water is evaluated as not clean enough to drink, filtration systems are used for drinking water.
Wealthy people can use filtration systems not only for drinking water, but for the whole clean water system of their homes. If you are in Turkey for limited time, bottled water is the best way to reach clean water. You can see many water distribution cars in the streets; where water is sold in 19-liter bottles (called ‘damacana’ in Turkish) which carried to your house by the seller. You can find a local shop selling damacana, it is very common everywhere in Turkey.
To summarize, if you are travelling to a small city in Turkey, you can ask locals if the tap water is drinkable. But in big cities, it’s best to stick to bottled water when possible. For additional information about the food and drink safety in Turkey, check out canyoudrinktapwaterin.com, Istanbul, health tips while you’re there, and food safety information in Turkey.
If you have any additional information related to this post please don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comments section below, your experiences and thoughts are of value and can be of great benefit to us.