Tap Water Providing 1,000 Bottles of 500ml for Just 100 Yen with Dramatically Improved Taste | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Tap Water Providing 1,000 Bottles of 500ml for Just 100 Yen with Dramatically Improved Taste

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In fact, does it have the same mineral content as commercial mineral water!?

Some people drink tap water as it is, while others resist the smell and taste and purchase bottled mineral water to drink.

According to the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the annual expenditure on mineral water per household was an average of 3,757 yen nationwide in 2020. Recently, there has been an increasing trend. Among major cities, Shizuoka City has the highest expenditure at 7,218 yen.

A common reason given for purchasing mineral water is “because it contains minerals and is good for health.” However, when examining the hardness, which indicates the mineral content, most Japanese-made mineral waters are considered soft water with less than 60 mg/L of minerals. In contrast, the average hardness of tap water measured by the Tokyo Waterworks Bureau is about 60 mg/L. The mineral content is almost the same.

Furthermore, people who said they do not drink tap water as it is cited reasons such as “concerns about safety” and “not having a habit of drinking tap water,” each accounting for just under 40%, and “it doesn’t taste good” at just under 30%. This is based on a survey conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government last autumn, which included about 11,000 households and businesses.

Various waterworks bureaus across municipalities are making efforts, and improvements in taste and smell are generally not well known.

Given the high cost of living and the need to review living expenses, those who purchase mineral water might consider tap water as an alternative.

Is Tap Water Really “Unpalatable”? (PHOTO: AFRO)

Tap Water Across Various Regions Has Dramatically Improved in Taste and Smell.

Tap water costs about 200 yen per 1,000 liters. If you buy a 500ml bottle of water for 100 yen, “you could get approximately 1,000 bottles (about 500 liters) with tap water!” This is highlighted on the official site of Chiba Prefecture’s “Delicious Water Creation.”

Furthermore, the site states:

Bottled water doesn’t have the smell of chlorine and might taste better than tap water for some people, but it doesn’t taste as well as tap water. Once you open the bottle, you need to drink it right away. How about it? Tap water is “cheap,” “safe,” and has a good “shelf life.” Try drinking it chilled!

The reason for this is that tap water is required by the Waterworks Law to be disinfected with chlorine and must meet 51 water quality standards.

The website of the Kobe City Waterworks Bureau also states that tap water is managed according to over 200 water quality parameters and delivers safe and delicious water. Additionally, it emphasizes that drinking a 500ml bottle of water costing 100 yen every day would amount to 36,500 yen per year, whereas the same amount of Kobe’s tap water would cost only about 22 yen per year.

“The fundamental point is that the river water has become cleaner. If the original water isn’t good, it’s hard to make tap water clean. Each waterworks bureau is also working on providing delicious water based on feedback from residents through surveys.”

This is according to a representative from the Water Quality Department of the Japan Waterworks Association. The efforts of local residents to improve the natural environment are making the river water, which is used as the source for tap water, cleaner. There is a cost issue with purification when making tap water, and it is easier to purify if the original water is good.

Furthermore, chlorine needs to be added to disinfect the water when making tap water, but each waterworks bureau is trying to minimize the chlorine concentration based on resident surveys. They are also working to remove the chlorine smell from tap water as much as possible.

According to the Shokuhin Sangyo Shimbun, the production volume of mineral water in Japan has reached a record high for the fourth consecutive year, surpassing 400 billion yen for the first time in terms of value (image: Aflo).

Up until now, it has been possible to remove trace amounts of trihalomethanes, odors, and organic matter to nearly zero.

A spokesperson from the Waterworks Association also mentioned, “People are sensitive to odors, but there are limits to analysis, with machines detecting only zero levels.” Various waterworks bureaus are introducing advanced purification processes to improve the taste and odor of tap water. This includes advanced treatment methods using ozone’s oxidative power and activated carbon’s adsorption capacity, allowing for the removal of previously unremovable trace amounts of trihalomethanes, odors, and organic matter, in addition to conventional coagulation and filtration methods.

“The presence of chlorine odors and similar factors diminishes the taste of tap water. Therefore, we have introduced advanced water purification processes to decompose microorganisms. The presence or absence of these processes affects the taste and odor.”

Speaking on this matter is a representative from the Tokyo Metropolitan Waterworks Bureau Service Promotion Division. It is reported that all purification plants along the Arakawa and Tone River systems in Tokyo have implemented advanced water purification processes. However, in the Tama area, where the water quality of the Tama River headwaters is good, such processes have not been introduced.

In Tokyo, employees are not only treating tap water to make it taste better but also working to maintain the water sources in good condition. The aforementioned representative states, “Tokyo Metropolitan staff are maintaining areas such as Okutama and Koshu City in Yamanashi Prefecture, which are owned by the city, in a clean condition.” They are organizing mountain forests, which serve as water sources, through activities such as clearing fallen trees and thinning.

The aforementioned Waterworks Association representative mentions, “Areas using groundwater have high-quality tap water.” Regions utilizing groundwater, such as around Lake Kawaguchi in Yamanashi Prefecture, are said to have good-tasting tap water within Japan. Groundwater undergoes purification over long periods in the soil, and it is said to contain additional minerals.”

The Waterworks Association representative suggests some delicious ways to enjoy tap water: ① Drink it chilled, ② Squeeze a little lemon into it, and ③ Boil it and let it cool before drinking. Chilling reduces the odor perceptually. Lemon juice reacts chemically with chlorine and helps eliminate the odor. However, too much lemon juice can overpower the water with lemon flavor, so it’s best to use just a small amount to remove chlorine.

It seems that tap water is reaching a level where it can be enjoyed directly. Try experimenting with chilling or other methods to enhance your drinking experience.

  • Interview and text by Hideki Asai

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