Depending on who you speak to in Mexico, you might be told that tap water is absolutely potable or, by contrast, you might be told that it’s not even suitable for brushing your teeth.
Whether the water is fit for healthy consumption or not depends more about where, precisely, the tap is situated. Some cities and towns have excellent public water systems and local people especially are quite content drinking water from their tap; but not every place can be depended upon to have a reliable source of potable water. And therein lies the rub. Unless you know for sure that the water is potable, you do well to take bottled or filtered water instead.
Water in Mexico is usually delivered to homes in one of four ways: via mains-feed system; via a communal feed sourced from local water springs and wells; via a private well situated on the property; or a combination of rain collection (in season) and local water delivery by truck.
Properties situated in most urban towns and cities have their water provided by a mains-feed, whereas at properties situated in rural areas, water is supplied from a communally-run system that obtains water from local wells, or else owners collect rain water (in season) and top this up with deliveries from trucks which dispense water into large cisterns at the property.
Some homeowners install on-site filtration systems which provide a separate tap that dispenses filtered water fed from the property’s water supply. Otherwise, bottled water is widely available in Mexico, and can be bought in sizes ranging from small hand-sized bottles to 20-liter containers. It’s sold by street traders, local convenience stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and even specialist water delivery companies; the latter deal in the 20-liter bottles and deliver these to homes, offices and factories.
Most of the larger hotels in Mexico —and some of the up-scale smaller hotels— have water purification systems installed at their properties, so all water on-site is guaranteed as potable. All hotels tend to offer guests at least one bottle of purified water in the room, replenished by the maid each day at no extra charge, regardless of whether the water from the taps in the hotel’s room is drink-able.
Restaurants offer bottled water at a premium; but you can ask for a complementary glass of water which might emanate from a bottle, or from a filtration system.
Since Aztec times, Mexicans have been avid traders, and their skill to spot a market and serve it on an impromptu basis is alive and well to-day. Enterprising ambulant traders offer water and sodas at remote locations where there are no stores: for example, at archaeology parks, and areas of natural beauty where tourists are known to gather. You may also see them offering water at traffic lights on hot days, on local buses, as well the long lines of traffic which inevitably build up on the approach to major toll booths on highways at holiday periods. So you’ll never be too far away from drink-able water in Mexico.
You can read more about Mexico’s water here on Mexperience.
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