Is Seattle’s Tap Water Safe To Drink? (Yes, probably…)

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Every time I take a place to somewhere I’ve never been before, one of the first things I do is to find out whether or not I can drink their tap water.

Not that I prefer tap water over bottled or purified, of course, but when it’s 3 AM at the hotel and I can’t sleep, I’m usually not interested in walking three blocks to the convenience store to buy a bottle of Dasani.

If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, you’ll probably have the same question. The quick answer is “yes.”

Seattle’s water is clean and regularly tested for impurities to ensure that it’s safe for those in the city. Many people love the taste of Seattle water as it is naturally mineralized water from the nearby Cascade Mountains.

However, I think it’s important to understand why that’s the case, so I’ll give a longer answer as well.

Where Does Seattle’s Water Come From?

There are actually two sources of tap water that serve Seattle: the Tolt, and the Cedar River Watersheds, both of which are owned by the City of Seattle.

Both of these consist of rainwater that flows down from the nearby Cascade Mountains. The Cedar covers over 90,000 acres and provides 70% of the city’s water, while the Tolt is a little smaller and covers the other 30%.

The reservoirs are kept as pristine as possible, with guards ensuring that no one accesses the area and with the water itself flowing directly into the city’s system.

The water is tested by the city at these basins on a constant basis before it moves on to the next step.

Where Does The Water Go Next?

Water from the reservoir flows into one of a number of regulating basins, where the following steps are taken to improve the quality of the water.

First, a special type of oxygen called gaseous ozone is added to the water, which removes any undesirable flavors.

Second, coagulation chemicals are added to the water, which binds to some of the smaller particles, causing them to group together and be more easily filtered out.

Next, the water flows through six feet of coal, which works the same way that a Brita or other type of home water filter does.

Then, very small amounts of chlorine and fluoride are added to the water, for a final bit of filtering and to promote healthier teeth.

Finally, the water flows from the treatment facility to transmission mains and smaller pipes directly into homes, hotels, restaurants, and everywhere else.

Sounds Great! So the Water Is Always Pure?

For a vast majority of customers, yes. There is still a small amount of contamination that could take place, but it actually has nothing to do with how the water is sourced.

Many years ago, before newer styles of pipe came into widespread use, the city’s system used lead pipes, because nobody knew that lead was bad for you, or at least that using it for plumbing was an easy way to suffer water contamination.

The good news, however, is that now that we do know lead pipes can contaminate drinking water, the city is quickly replacing them with safer alternatives.

The building itself might have lead pipes as well, although this only affects homes built from 1965 to 1980, as the city of Seattle banned lead in plumbing systems that year. Homes built before 1940 might have lead connectors as well.

Are There Precautions I Can Take?

If you’ve read all of this and you’re still concerned about the quality of your tap water, there are a few precautions you can take to make sure it’s clean.

First, running the tap for two minutes before collecting water to drink will flush out potential contaminants which can build in standing water but not running water. This should only be necessary if the water hasn’t been run in the previous six hours.

Second, buying a Brita or other type of home water filter, either on the faucet or a pitcher, can eliminate additional hazardous chemicals.

Finally, if you want to go a bit traditional or are concerned about wasting water, you can boil it on the stove, a system that goes back thousands of years.

Final Thoughts

The tap water in Seattle is safe to drink, with extremely low levels of dangerous chemicals that are well below the minimum standards.

That being said, it doesn’t really taste all that great. It’s tap water. When’s the last time you thought, “I need a smooth, refreshing glass of tap water.” I’m going to guess “never.”

That’s why I’m a big fan of those water enhancers. They go great in tap water and they actually make it pleasant to drink. I’m not a fan of the taste of water, maybe that’s just me.

I’m a big fan of Mio, including the ones with a little bit of caffeine in them, available at many local grocery stores.

I also enjoy the electrolyte-filled water-enhancing drops marketed by seven-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady, which he sells through his TB12 brand on Amazon. A few drops of that in some tap water is like a better-tasting version of Gatorade.

No matter how you choose to drink your water when you come to Seattle, you can rest assured that it is some of the highest quality tap water available anywhere in the United States!

Why don’t you come and try it for yourself? Seattle can’t wait to welcome you on your next trip to the Pacific Northwest!