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.
The water source matters
Whether the water dispensed from your tap in Mexico 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 delivery in Mexico
Water in Mexico is usually delivered to homes in one of four ways: via mains-feed system; via a communal feed sourced from official local water springs and wells; via a private well situated on the property (although this is rare); 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 underground cisterns situated at the property.
Water filtration systems
Some homeowners in Mexico install on-site filtration systems that provide a separate tap that dispenses filtered water fed from the property’s main water supply. Filtration systems vary from single-stage active carbon filters, to multiple-stage filtration that includes several different filter types and might also include passing the water through ultraviolet light. You can learn more about water systems in your home by downloading our free guide to House Maintenance and Security in Mexico.
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.
Buying bottled water in Mexico
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.
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 these vendors offering bottled 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 weekends. So you’ll never be too far away from drink-able water in Mexico.
Learn more about water in Mexico
We publish a range of articles and guides about water in Mexico, which gives local knowledge and insight whether you are visiting Mexico or living here.
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