Water quality in Chile

Postby briloop » Wed Dec 26, 2007 1:54 pm

What is the water quality in Chile? Is it hard or soft? Is it necessary to have a water softener for your house?

Is the tap water drinkable? Does the typical Chilean drink tap water or buy bottled water?

Thanks
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Postby Vicki and Greg Lansen » Wed Dec 26, 2007 2:59 pm

I believe the water quality is pretty decent. In Santiago the tap water tasted fine (I realize that isn't a scientific test) and we experienced no ill effects in the month we stayed there. We are now in Southern Chile and find the water excellent - and COLD! It doesn't seem hard, but I guess that would depend on what you are used to. Since we've lived for almost seven years without a water softener, I have nothing to compare it to. But generally, I think you would find water from the taps in Chile good. We are using a small water filter here, but only because we are using river water and don't want to take the chance of ghiardia, or amoebas that sometime come with wilderness living.

If I'm wrong, I hope someone will feel free to weigh in!
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clean water in Chile

Postby admin » Thu Dec 27, 2007 10:48 pm

Lets put it this way, I would drink the water anywhere in Chile over any of the poison that comes out of the taps in the South West United States (rocket fuel, radiated, pesticides).

Chile has very high standards for drinking water, and chlorinated treated water is required in any urbanized area.

In the South, there are more than a few rivers I would qualify as too clean. They are so cold from the glacial run off, that they can not support fish life. Something to keep in mind when buying land on a river and you want to go fishing.

I have drank water out of a lot of the streams in the Patagonia untreated. I do it very selectively however, keeping an eye on what farms are between me and the glacier.

Also ground water tends to be easy to find for wells. Most people in the country hand dig their wells. There are also drilling companies if you want to go deep.

If you are really paranoid, you can sample water and have it sent to one of about a million private labs in Santiago or any of the major cities for testing. The labs are really common and cheap.

Still, I would caution just like any new place in the World, drink bottled water and stick to more processed foods for a few days after you arrived to let your body adjust to the local wild life.

I will likely get sick going back to the States now because of the change of the normal bacteria.
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Postby briloop » Fri Dec 28, 2007 3:10 pm

I started this topic because I recently had the water in my house tested. The water in my house meets local and state standards, but it isn't as good as I would like it to be.

My wife is from Colombia. She has noticed how hard the water is in central Texas versus Colombia. One of the water testers told us that the difference in water quality is mainly due to the geology of North America vs. South America.

Some areas in the U.S. (i.e. central Texas) get their water from underground limestone aquifers. Water drawn from such a source tends to have varying degrees of calcium and other minerals dissolved in it, thus making the water hard. However, many sources of water in South America originate or flow through volcanic rock formations, and do not pick up a lot of minerals that make the water hard.

Another factor involved with water quality is the amount of chemicals, fertilizers, pollution, etc. Where I live the water is treated with chlorine to make it safe to drink. I would imagine that cities in Chile that receive water from a glacial source probably wouldn't have a whole lot of contaminants in it, unless there was runoff from farming or other operations.

Not knowing the geology, hydrology, etc. of Chile, and assuming the water in Chile comes from glaciers, snowmelt, etc., I would guess that the water in Chile is probably soft and depending on its source, relatively clean.
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Water in Chile

Postby Laura55llc » Fri Dec 28, 2007 3:57 pm

Good question and I have limited knowledge only due to personal experience.

I would say the water is neither very hard or soft. We now have a well and you can taste some minerals but I believe the water is well filtered, a lot of sand and rock beneath the topsoil. Many in the area have shallow hand dug wells and I think they thought we were a little silly to use a machine and dig deeper. And then we covered it carefully too! When we asked a neighbor how his water was, he said it was good. There was that time it smelled funny and a small rabbit had fallen down the well but....

You have to love the lack of worry and stress in Chileans.
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” - Aldous Huxley
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Postby Juanito » Fri Dec 28, 2007 6:58 pm

I never got used to the tap water in Santiago. I think it has too much chlorine. My experience was that after drinking some water, my mouth felt dry, and I felt thirstier.

Anywhere else in Chile, no problem. I've drank from streams in the Novena and Decima region and had no problems. I did this at a decent height though.

Accidentally gulped some lake water in Lican Ray one year. I was sick like a dog for a few days. So don't drink the lake water. ;)


I got a Brita pitcher + filters at Jumbo a few months ago, so I use this now. No harm in avoiding any possible bichos.
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water in chile

Postby admin » Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:13 am

Almost all spring water in Chile goes through a lot of volcanic rock. I have never really noticed any hard water problems in Temuco. I would say it is more on the soft water side of things. Soap lathers up real easy.

Our engineer is building a water treatment plant right now around Isla de maipo (not our project). I will have to interrogate her some more about the system.
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Postby eeuunikkeiexpat » Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:34 pm

RE: city or populated area treated water, I'd be VERY INTERESTED on the use or lack of use of flouride/flourine in the treated water supply.
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Re: Water quality in Chile

Postby El Zorro » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:51 pm

In case you haven’t seen this:

http://asrg.berkeley.edu/00FerreccioLCAsDWChile.pdf

This is my biggest worry about moving to South America. Chile is not alone.
Last edited by El Zorro on Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Water quality in Chile

Postby 4heid » Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:22 pm

FIrst, all of the world has or has had these issues. Remember in the 80's and 90's the stories coming out of the coal belt in the US from contaminated sites, illegal dumping, toxic waste, etc being present and hidden for years and finally being blown by some locals.
Second, this article indicates there are many statistical issues and the most important part I believe is the chart of arsenic concentrations for the various towns indicating that San Pedro has or had an issue.
The best case scenario in any place is to filter your water with good inline filters that contain charcoal,carbon, etc.
The tap water I had in Miami when living there was horrible due to significant processing from waste canals.
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Re: Water quality in Chile

Postby admin » Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:46 am

You need to put in to context also, that Chile is relatively unpopulated country, and yes there is a lot of industrial use of chemicals but they are fairly localized. Even at that I bet someone has a report to compare tons of contaminants per square KM. Chile is likly fairly low, just out of shear lack of people and relative industrial activity.
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Re: Water quality in Chile

Postby 4heid » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:50 am

El Zorro, check out these links below.
This issue is not simply one of SA being 3rd world and having poor water. There are many instances where water in Southern Chile, for example, may be naturally more pure than what we have in the US.
If you look deeper you will find that most US big cities dont even meet the guidelines and its a topic that is rarely discussed here. Even Switzerland has issues, amongst the cleanest of all countries in the world.
There are many organic and inorganic metals, etc that exist naturally in the earth that appear with erosion and are washed into rivers as well as acid rain to name a very few.

Here are some quotes and a link:

"Environment Protection Agency of The United States of America has estimated that some 13 million of the population of USA, mostly in the western states, are exposed to arsenic in drinking- water at 0.01 mg/L, although concentrations appear to be typically much lower than those encountered in areas such as Bangladesh and West Bengal. (USEPA, 2001) "
"# Arsenic is widely distributed throughout the earth's crust.
# Arsenic is introduced into water through the dissolution of minerals and ores, and concentrations in groundwater in some areas are elevated as a result of erosion from local rocks.
# Industrial effluents also contribute arsenic to water in some areas.
# Arsenic is also used commercially e.g. in alloying agents and wood preservatives.
# Combustion of fossil fuels is a source of arsenic in the environment through disperse atmospheric deposition.
# Inorganic arsenic can occur in the environment in several forms but in natural waters, and thus in drinking-water, it is mostly found as trivalent arsenite (As(III)) or pentavalent arsenate (As (V)). Organic arsenic species, abundant in seafood, are very much less harmful to health, and are readily eliminated by the body. "

http://wwf.org.au/publications/rich-cou ... -water.pdf

Read page 9 of the above about the USA.
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