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FAQ

Water in Switzerland

Can I drink tap water in Switzerland?

Tap water is the most controlled foodstuff in Switzerland. Thanks to near-natural treatment and improvements in water protection, it has a very high quality and is safe to drink. More information on the quality of drinking water in Switzerland and all of the 2,500 water suppliers can be found here.

How is the quality of tap water guaranteed?

The local water supplier is responsible for the supply to households. There are over 2,500 water suppliers in Switzerland. They work on a public contract and are legally bound to high quality standards. Tap water is treated as close to nature as possible, i.e. with as little interference with its composition as possible. This means that almost two thirds of the drinking water can be distributed without chemical treatment. Otherwise, the processing minimizes trace substances until they are far below a concentration that is hazardous to health. You can find more detailed information on the control of water suppliers here.

Who is responsible for the distribution of my tap water?

Water supply is one of the traditional areas of public activity. Typically, it is the political communities that operate the water supply. The water suppliers guarantee impeccable quality from the water catchment to the household. Within a household, the owner or landlord is responsible. There are over 2,500 water suppliers in Switzerland. The Swiss Gas and Water Association (SVGW) regulates framework conditions, bundles and distributes knowledge and represents the interests of water suppliers. They are operated by the equivalent of 3,100 full-time employees. Comprehensive information on individual communities and their water supply can be found here.

Isn't mineral water much cleaner and healthier than tap water?

No. Mineral water is not "cleaner" than tap water. Trace substances are found in every water, be it tap water or bottled water. The legal regulations for tap water are even stricter than those for mineral water. Only about half of the commercially available mineral water contains significantly more minerals than tap water. In addition, the human body can only absorb a certain amount of minerals, most of them through solid foods. Consequently, water with a high mineral content may not even provide any added value.

Which trace substances are found in tap water and how can their risk be assessed?

Trace substances can be of very different types and occur in different concentrations, depending on the location (agricultural, residential or industrial zone) and time. Currently, the most frequently observed and potentially riskiest trace substances are nitrate, pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Values exceeding the upper limit are found in areas of intensive agriculture or around settlements especially. There is no risk of harmful concentrations in drinking water after treatment, however. In recent years, more trace substances were found as the quality of measuring instruments was improved. This is much more an enormous advantage than a disadvantage. The quality of drinking water has increased due to improved measuring instruments and a more differentiated picture of trace substances is possible. More information on trace substances can be found here.

How sustainable is the supply of tap water with regard to the natural occurrence of water?


Switzerland has abundant water resources, which are constantly renewed by precipitation. The average annual rainfall in Switzerland is around 60 billion cubic metres. Only 1.5% of this is used for drinking water. A significant proportion of the water used in commerce, agriculture and industry is not supplied through public, but approved private sources. This accounts for about 2% of the annual precipitation. Despite the sustainable use, regional and seasonal shortages can occur in Switzerland's moated castle. Climate change will increasingly exacerbate this trend. Infrastructure investments and improved networking of water suppliers are needed to ensure a secure supply throughout the year.

How eco-friendly is tap water compared to mineral water?


Tap water is the most eco-friendly foodstuff. The systematic supply of tap water via a pipe network allows tap water to perform about 500-600 times better than Swiss bottled water and about 1000 times better than bottled water imported from the EU. In this way, every litre of tap water drunk instead of bottled water saves the environmental impact of a 2-3 kilometre car drive. In the case of tap water, only the treatment and distribution require energy. This is especially true for spring water: as it does not contain any civilizational impurities and builds up pressure itself due to its elevated location it is the most eco-friendly kind of water.

What social added value does tap water offer?


The principles under which tap water supply works guarantee high drinking water quality at low water prices. This is important because safe access to water does not simply mean that there is existing and functioning infrastructure. Access is only guaranteed when everyone can afford the service. Through these principles, the supply of tap water is socially inclusive and creates the basis for equal opportunities.

What challenges does the water supply face?

Unfortunately, water suppliers have to deal with conflicts of use more frequently today. The pressure of increasing residential areas plays the biggest role, followed by the agricultural sector. The limited space is often not used for the necessary water protection zones, but for real estate and infrastructure projects. This is more lucrative for many communities, at least in the short term. Despite their elementary and excellent service, water suppliers often do not receive the priority they deserve in the public interest in conflicts of use. Political processes in settlement construction and agriculture should once again focus on the regulations surrounding the protection of drinking water resources.

Aren't there more important sustainability issues than water consumption?

Measured against the absolute environmental impact, it doesn't make a big difference whether you drink tap or bottled water. Overall, if only tap water was consumed, about 0.5% of Switzerland's per capita environmental impact could be saved. However, there are two reasons in favour of discussing the water issue. Firstly, the supply of tap water works according to a completely different system than branded water. The fact that high quality drinking water flows out of our taps at all times makes drinking branded water particularly absurd. No comparable infrastructure is provided for any other foodstuff. Secondly, water consumption can be used to effectively make various topics visible: from eco-friendly and responsible actions in everyday life to global inequalities in access to water. Drinking tap water connected to the corresponding communication then serves as an initiator and catalyst for environmental policies, which have a comparably bigger influence on eco-friendliness.

What are the advantages of returnable bottles and carafes made of glass or stainless steel?

The chemical composition of glass and stainless steel, unlike other packaging materials, is known. Both materials are impermeable: neither do substances penetrate through glass and metal, nor do these materials mix with the contents. Unlike plastic, no particles are transferred from the container into the contents. Glass and stainless steel are made from natural materials. This is why degradation products are harmless to nature. In addition, the food chain is not disturbed because animals recognize the inorganic material and do not eat it. This is not the case with plastic. You can get your reusable glass or stainless steel bottle here.

How eco-friendly are glass and stainless steel compared to PET bottles?


The production of glass and stainless steel is energy-intensive. Therefore, only returnable bottles can be classified as eco-friendly. Comparative tests often assume a reuse rate of 25-50 times. Such comparisons do not apply to bottles and carafes that have been used for years. This type of use is by far the most eco-friendly, as recurring expenses, transport and waste are completely eliminated. Conventional plastic bottles are only energy-efficient if they are recycled at an extremely high rate: on an international comparison, Switzerland's recycling rate of around 80% is at record levels. Up to 300 million bottles annually are still not recycled, however. Therefore, even though recycling is a lot better than burning plastic, the only sustainable solution is to forego one-way plastic.

Can I simply use my PET bottle several times?

The properties of PET are not designed for multiple use. Therefore, there can be several disadvantages when refilling a plastic bottle. The main reason is that plastic is not waterproof. More parts of the packaging are released into the contents every time you reuse the bottle. This release of parts of the packaging into its content is undisputed: by drinking water only from PET bottles for a year, one "eats" an entire PET bottle. The most noticeable substance is acetaldehyde, a colourless liquid with a pungent odour that is found in PET. You can even taste this substance in PET bottles sometimes. The health hazards this poses are controversial as long-term consequences are not yet foreseeable. Therefore, it is best to avoid plastic bottles and get a glass or stainless steel bottle instead. Get yours here.

What happens to our bodies when we take in microplastics?

Microplastics have been found in foods, cosmetics, soil, air and even the ice at the polar caps. We are therefore constantly exposed to it. Consequently, it is not surprising that microplastics have already been detected inside the human body. This is problematic for our bodies as well as for the environment because synthetically produced plastic hardly decomposes, but is only reduced in size. However, the long-term effects of microplastics on health are still difficult to assess. Further information on microplastics in the environment can be found here.

You have not received an answer to your question yet?


You can find further information on drinking water on our page Water Quality in Switzerland. If you can't find an answer to your question there, please feel free to contact us. Click here for the contact form.

WfW OFFICE

Why should our office become a WfW partner?

With a WfW partnership, companies show attitude. They actively integrate environmental friendliness and social action into the day-to-day work of their employees using water as a resource. WfW carafes and returnable bottles help to take on social responsibility in a simple way and to set an example for sensible water consumption without unnecessary effort.

How is the partnership communicated?

WfW OFFICE partners should be active ambassadors for the water issue. That is why WfW supports partner companies in their communication of their commitment. In addition to our carafes, bottles and jars, we also provide other means for online and offline communication.

How high are the partnership contributions?

The support contributions of the WfW OFFICE partners are based on the size of the company. We are happy to prepare an individual offer for each company.

Must WfW OFFICE partners do without carbonated water?

No, thanks to water dispensers, tap water can easily be carbonated and cooled. WfW works together with installation partners who prepare a free quotation for interested companies. WfW OFFICE partners receive a water dispenser at preferential prices.

How large does a company have to be in order to participate in WfW?

There is no minimum size for WfW OFFICE partners. It is important to us to achieve the broadest possible spectrum of partnerships. In this way, water and environmental issues are to be brought to the attention of society as a whole.

How long does a partnership with WfW last?

A WfW OFFICE partnership lasts at least three years. These multi-year partnerships serve the long-term planning and sustainability of our projects in Zambia, Mozambique and Switzerland.

Does the contribution support project work in Switzerland or in Zambia and Mozambique?

WfW OFFICE partners themselves choose how much of their partner contribution goes to our two project areas. The focus can be determined individually.

Why do not all donations go to project work in Zambia and Mozambique?

WfW sets itself clear goals not only in Zambia and Mozambique, but also in Switzerland: The promotion of tap water, the integration of donations into everyday life and the sensitisation of society. Supporting Switzerland's project work not only promotes the ecological consumption of tap water, but also demonstrates local and global responsibility in the use of water.

In order to implement such projects and expand our network in Switzerland, donations are needed. In addition, support for the WfW project work in Switzerland strengthens the project work in Zambia and Mozambique by attracting further partners and raising funds for the projects.

How much of a donated franc will actually reach Zambia and Mozambique?

WfW works with separate accounts. Contributions earmarked for WfW project work in Zambia and Mozambique are used in full for these projects.

Are WfW carafes and bottles dishwasher safe?

Basically, all bottles and carafes in the WfW OFFICE range are dishwasher-safe. To protect the imprint, however, we recommend washing the carafes and bottles by hand.

Can companies also buy bottles without becoming a WfW partner?

No. Our carafes are a clear sign that the company in question is prepared to support WfW projects with donations. In order to make our projects sustainable and to remain fair to our existing partners, carafes can therefore only be purchased as part of a WfW OFFICE partnership. Bottles and decanters for private use can be purchased in our web shop.

You have not received an answer to your question yet?

You can find further information on WfW OFFICE on our page. If you can't find an answer to your question there, please feel free to contact us. Click here for the contact form.

WfW GASTRO

Why should guests pay for tap water?

The hospitality industry provides services for its guests. The service of tap water is also a catering service for which costs are incurred. It is therefore up to each establishment to pass these costs on to the guests. At the same time, the restaurateurs are free to offer the service free of charge in the spirit of guest cooperation. With WfW, restaurateurs give tap water a value, sensitise people to the water issue and at the same time assume a global responsibility.

Does this not help WfW to earn money for restaurateurs with tap water?

At WfW CLASSIC, partner companies do not earn money with tap water, as the entire amount is donated to WfW. At WfW GREEN, the companies do without branded water, use completely treated tap water and thus act ecologically. Since restaurateurs cannot completely do without the income from water sales, a contractually agreed portion (usually 10%) of the total income is donated to WfW. WfW attaches great importance to the fact that treated tap water is sold to guests at a fair and transparent price.

Why do the water prices in the individual partner companies differ?

The pricing is at the discretion of the catering companies. WfW only makes recommendations for a fair water price.

Isn't the donation to WfW a paternalism of the guests?

Gastronomes clearly point out that they charge for tap water like any other product. However, they consciously decide to forego income and donate it to WfW.

If I pay one franc for water, how much does it effectively arrive in Zambia and Mozambique?

At WfW CLASSIC, every franc donated, after deduction of Swiss value-added tax, goes entirely to the project work in Zambia and Mozambique (tap water sales are subject to value-added tax in gastronomy).

At WfW GREEN, the donation amount depends on the agreed donation share of the respective company (generally 10%). So from one franc for WfW GREEN, ten centimes are usually spent on project work in Zambia and Mozambique.

How is it ensured that 100% of the donations from the catering trade go to Zambia and Mozambique?

The use of the catering income is contractually agreed with the partner companies. This contract assures WfW of the agreed donation shares and guarantees the partner company that 100% of the donations from the catering trade will flow into the project work in Zambia and Mozambique.

Project work in Switzerland is fully covered by contributions from WfW patrons and friends, our financing partners and WfW IM BÜRO partners. In Zambia and Mozambique, WfW works directly with local organisations with which it maintains a transparent partnership relationship, including regular reporting. In addition, WfW is on site several times a year.

How good is the tap water quality in Switzerland?

Tap water is the best controlled food on the market and can be drunk without hesitation. Various studies show that it is just as good as mineral water in terms of quality. In addition, it is up to 1000 times more ecological, since there is no need for packaging, transport or disposal. The Swiss water suppliers are obliged to supply tap water of drinking water quality up to the house connection. Slight discolorations in the water are usually caused by old pipes in the house. This only impairs the quality in exceptional cases. Further information on tap water quality in Switzerland can be found here.

Can water dispensers improve water quality?

In any case, tap water has drinking water quality. The systems filter dirt particles from the house pipes out of the water, cool the water constantly and optionally carbonate it. Nevertheless, they remain dependent on the condition of the house pipes.

How much does a water dispenser cost and how much space is required?

The costs for a water dispenser as well as its space requirements vary depending on the local conditions. That's why we work with a company that has over 40 years of experience in this field. This company visits interested companies for a non-binding needs assessment and prepares a free quotation. A system costs between CHF 2,500 and 5,000. WfW GREEN partners receive a special discount on the installation.

Does WfW earn money from the water dispenser?

WfW waives a commission. Instead, we have agreed with our installation partners that our GASTRO partners benefit from a special discount. WfW therefore does not earn any money from the water dispenser.

Must WfW GREEN partners do without branded water?

The complete renunciation of branded water is a basic condition for WfW GREEN. Gastronomes thus demonstrate not only social but also ecological commitment by avoiding unnecessary production costs, transport and waste.

Are the WfW carafes a condition for partnership?


The carafes are an offer on our part to make it easier for restaurateurs to communicate the partnership to their guests. Of course, companies can continue to use their own carafes.

Do partner companies have to use the information material?


The information materials serve to sensitize employees and guests. We make them available free of charge and recommend their use. If no WfW information materials are used, the partnership should be made visible elsewhere (own materials, entries in beverage lists, etc.).

Are there WfW glasses for GASTRO partners?


No. There are currently no glasses available for partner companies in the gastronomy sector.

WfW SCHOOL

Why should our school become a WfW partner?

Dealing with water as a resource is of crucial importance in the sustainable design of the environment. Through cooperation with WfW, schools are fulfilling an educational mission relevant to society and everyday life, combining local and global references to water and acting as role models across school buildings.

What exactly is WfW's service?

WfW supports schools on several levels. Drinking materials can be purchased at advantageous prices and with an individual logo on request. WfW offers a variety of communication options within the school and makes text or image modules available for individual ideas. Partner schools can obtain finished teaching units free of charge for all levels as well as templates for projects on the subject of water (both are currently under development). WfW supports the school in the communal networking and gives ideas for cooperation between school and community (e.g. with the local water supplier).

How is the partnership implemented?

At the beginning of the partnership, the initial equipment of all persons is carried out. Pupils receive a personal stainless steel bottle. In the following years, the first graders are welcomed into the school culture with a bottle. The equipment is linked to a sensitisation project, ideally a water day. During the school year, teachers, their pupils and, if necessary, other persons (parents, community, etc.) voluntarily implement teaching units and/or projects on the subject of water. In addition, various communication materials (stickers, posters, calendars) make the topic permanently visible.

How is the partnership communicated?

The partnership is communicated to different actors in different ways. Within the school to teachers and pupils through drinking and communication materials. Cross-school communication with parents and the community through information letters, events or joint projects. The aim is to achieve the widest possible involvement and transfer of the water issue to everyday life in the community. Finally, to the WfW network and the general public, as desired by the school, through various channels such as social media, offline media (e.g. a local/community magazine), the WfW newsletter, etc.

How much do the stainless steel bottles cost?

The price of the stainless steel bottles can vary between 15 and 22 francs, depending on the order quantity and the desired print.

Why personal bottles?

ESD projects inspire students and often attract a lot of attention. One difficulty, however, lies in the transfer of knowledge into action. The competences learned remain present for a longer period of time if they are visible on a daily basis and have an effect on everyday life. The bottle starts with the most common thing: drinking tap water. By being used daily, the stainless steel bottle makes sustainable use of water permanently visible and tangible. She is an ambassador for the project and accompanies pupils during their school years and beyond.

How high are the annual contributions?

The annual partnership contribution depends on the number of pupils and the desired service provided by WfW. In most cases it varies between 1,000.- and 2,500.-. This covers all services, including any annual quantity of stainless steel bottles.

How does the financing work?

Schools should be relieved of as much of the financial burden as possible. We aim to distribute the financing among several actors. In line with its organisational mandate, WfW is contributing its own capital to education in the field of water. The remaining costs are to be covered by foundations, the canton and the municipality. WfW approaches foundations independently and offers templates for schools to approach corresponding authorities. Ideally, the municipality pays the annual partnership contribution.

Which schools can participate?

In principle, any school can participate. We are currently focusing on primary, secundary and vocational schools in the development of teaching units. But other aspects of the partnership can be implemented everywhere. Contact us for a personal discussion in which we can consider possibilities for implementation.

Is it possible to book WfW for lessons?

No, in principle it is our aim to provide schools with the necessary tools so that they can independently implement water-specific lessons or corresponding projects. Within a partnership, WfW will be happy to discuss possibilities for school attendance, for example to accompany a water day.

Do partner schools have to abstain from carbonated water?

No, thanks to tap water-based dispensers, tap water can easily be carbonated and cooled. WfW cooperates with installation partners who prepare a free offer for interested schools. Partner schools receive the dispensers at preferential prices.

How long does a partnership with WfW last?

A partnership with WfW lasts at least five years in the interests of long-term and sustainable development.

Do partner schools support project work in Switzerland or in Zambia and Mozambique?

The partner contribution flows into project work in Switzerland. The donations collected annually are fully used for project work in Africa. In order to be able to guarantee that the funds are used in the corresponding project work, we run a two-account system.

Are WfW carafes and bottles dishwasher safe?

Basically, all bottles and carafes in the WfW range are dishwasher-safe. To protect the imprint, however, we recommend washing the carafes and bottles by hand.

Can schools also buy bottles and carafes without becoming a WfW partner?

No. Our carafes and our logo represent an attitude and commitment that can only be guaranteed through the implementation of a partnership. In order to make our projects sustainable and to remain fair to our existing partners, carafes can therefore only be purchased within the framework of a partnership. For private use bottles and carafes can be purchased in our webshop.

You haven't received an answer to your question yet?

On our page WfW SCHOOL you will find further information about our concept. If you do not find an answer to your question there, please feel free to contact us. Click here to go to the contact form.