Is tap or faucet water safe to drink in Puerto Rico? Drinkable or not?

No, you shouldn’t drink water from the tap in Puerto Rico. There are things to take into consideration when you travel to this destination. Let’s look into this so that you are prepared and avoid problems.

While the water should follow the rules in the USA, NPR reports that there are a lot of problems with testing the water. If there are no tests, it is not guaranteed that the water is drinkable.

There are several things to take into account when we discuss drinkable water. Let’s take a look.

Source of the water

It depends on the source of the water. If the water is coming from the ground or rain, it might not be clean enough to drink. 

City water is often clean also not filtered in Puerto Rico. This means that several particles that could be harmful have not been removed from the water.

For this reason, you shouldn’t drink water in this location as it can cause problems. They don’t have the infrastructure in place to clean the drinking water. This requires advanced infrastructure and a lot of tests.

Water from your own well (groundwater)  is not checked by anyone and you are responsible to make sure that the water is clean. This can be done with filters. A lot of people don’t clean these filters. Water can contain a lot of elements that are not visible.

 You can also check your well from time to time to check if everything is looking clean. No dirt should be leaking into it. If you have a septic tank, you should make sure that it doesn’t spread as this can contaminate the water as well. 

Some houses mix groundwater and city water in the same water circuit. While this is not allowed, it can get mixed in your installation. This can contaminate the water and make it unsafe to drink.

The plumbing system and faucets can affect water quality

If you have old pipes, it is possible that steel leaks in them, and this can make the water undrinkable. Pipes can rust and leak in your water. An old water heater can do the same. 

Water can get a particular smell or color in these cases and shouldn’t be used.  People often don’t realize this and just rely on the advice of their water company but that is not enough as your own plumbing system might. 

Over the years dirt can collect in your faucet and pipes and this can affect the quality of the water as well. Furthermore, rodents often chew on pipes and they can make the water undrinkable. 

If water is standing still in your pipes for a while, it can become undrinkable as well. If you have been on holiday, it can be a great idea to open the faucet for a while. This cleans the drains and fills the p-trap again. 

Using a small water filter might remove some elements from the water but it can’t catch everything. Some particles are very small or strong and these filters are unable to catch them. 

Lifestraws is pretty good though. They claim that the filters in their drinking bottle can remove a lot of contaminants. You can consider bringing one of these on your trip. 

If you end up in a situation where there is no bottled water, you can use this as a backup.

How to be sure that the tap water in Puerto Rico is drinkable.

To be really certain that you can drink the water in your bathroom, a lab test is needed every few months. The quality can evolve over time so it is essential that you test it multiple times. 

This requires that you send a water sample and then they check for different elements. If they detect elements that are not suitable, they will warn you and provide advice on how to remove them from the water. 

These tests can cost a few hundred dollars. It can take a few days or weeks before you get the results. Make sure that you pick a lab that is certified and has experience with these tests. You can reach out to a plumber to get an idea of what labs they have worked with before. Real estate agents can help you out with this as well. 

There are digital meters but these are often not accurate enough. They are also not able to measure everything that should be checked. For these reasons, I am not a big fan of them.

 You can get a testing kit and perform the tests yourself. It won’t be as accurate as a lab test but can give a general idea of the quality of the water. These tests are quite easy to perform, from dipping a piece of paper in water to filling a bottle with water. 

You get the results quite fast. It is still a great idea to get an initial test from a lab as these can measure more elements and are more precise. 

Given that it is always possible that something changes between tests, you can never be 100% certain that the water is safe. Bottled water has a higher chance of being safe and is often recommended for younger people. 

To conclude, it is difficult to be 100% sure if the water in your bathroom is drinkable in Puerto Rico without doing a test. In most instances, it shouldn’t be drinkable anyway as the water hasn’t been filtered enough.

Puerto Rico has to deal with a lot of tornados and other natural events. These can affect the quality of the drinking water. Repairs might be needed as well. These can take a long time as the supplies often have to come from the mainland.

Given that there are reports of inadequate testing, it is best to avoid problems. Just get water at the grocery store.

Luckily most stores have bottled water so it shouldn’t be a problem to get access to it.

If Puerto Rico steps up its testing and can prove that the water is drinkable, we can change our point of view. For now, more work needs to be done to get an overview of the situation.

Puerto Rico is a great location to visit. They have wonderful nature and great food.

 A lot of things can be wrong with the water and a detailed test can check what is going on. A test can cost a few hundred dollars and has to be repeated from time to time but it is better to be safe than sorry. 

Not enough attention is being paid to this so it is great that you are making an effort to check if it is drinkable!

Are ice cubes and raw vegetables safe in Puerto Rico?  

You might fancy a cold drink with ice cubes or raw vegetables during your trip.

 It is not safe to have ice cubes in your drink when you go to Puerto Rico. They are generally made with contaminated water. In more expensive hotels they might use bottled water for the ice cubes but always check.

The same is true about eating raw vegetables in Puerto Rico. They might have been washed with dirty water and this can lead to problems. In some places they use bottled water but you still have to be careful during your trip.

You have to be careful that you don’t get drinks with ice cubes or raw vegetables as these can contain contaminated water.

The water in Puerto Rico is not drinkable. This is something that you have to think about during the whole trip. You can consider bringing a water bottle with a filter or get bottled water instead.