Is Rio de Janeiro Tap Water Safe to Drink? (2019)

Safe to drink?Yes
Passed the WHO International Standard?Yes
The estimated price of bottled water in USD(1.5-liter) $0.66

Tap water in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is safe to drink. However, the taste is rather unpleasant, and Rio’s water treatment system can get overloaded in times of heavy rains, which are known to occur in the Tropics. For this reason, we stick to drinking bottled water.

The water in restaurants is filtered, tastes good, and is safe to drink. However, it’s only served frozen, like ice cubes that. Unlike in the USA, tap water over ice is not served in Brazilian restaurants. You need to buy bottled water like you would buy a soft drink, either carbonated or regular.

Brazil has a more enormous drinkable water reserve in the world. And most companies responsible for water treatment have world-class quality. But unfortunately, there is a lousy distribution between regions, so it’s safer to use tap water in the major cities in the Southeast and South regions, like in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, and Curitiba.

Source of Water in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro Tap Water
Guandu River, Rio de Janeiro

In Rio de Janeiro, the tap water originates from the surface water of Guandu River, and Paraíba do Sul River. The river provides water to 9 million people in Greater Rio de Janeiro. Many streams of the river rise in the 4,398 hectares Mendanha State Park, built-in 2013. An aqueduct brings the water across the Pedra Branca State Park to Rio’s south zone.

Rio de Janeiro boasts the world’s largest water treatment plant, and it’s working overtime. The Guandu Water Treatment Station provides 90 percent of the city of Rio’s water, and it’s increasingly grappling with water quality problems. One challenge is that forest loss and landscape degradation upstream to the town is causing soil erosion, which generates more pollution, and fills reservoirs with sediment instead of water. This causes costly water treatment and dredging needs.

Trees naturally filter the water that runs through them, providing cleaner water to people downstream, and reducing water treatment costs. Forests also protect cities from floods and landslides, and reduce wear and tear on downstream built infrastructure like dams and treatment plants.

Supplying water to 9 million people puts tremendous pressure on the Guandu treatment plant. Because of the volume of water moving through it, even a low rate of pollution can result in high costs. And the challenge is intensifying—to meet the city’s demand in 2030, the supply of treated water may need to increase up to 50%. Rio de Janeiro is also facing a budget crisis. Spending more and more on water treatment isn’t good for the city.

Some of the Local Convenience Stores in Rio de Janeiro

AM/PM Rio de Janeiro
AM/PM
  • AM/PM
  • Void
  • Cardeal Point Do Pao
  • Redbrian
  • BR Mania
  • Americanas
  • Solution Express
  • Shell Select
  • Formiguinha da barata
  • Recarga Expressa
  • Liga do Açaí
  • Empório São Roque
  • Alô Madruga
  • Posto Petrobras

Estimated Price of Bottled Water

VolumeBRLUSDEURGBP
1.5-literR$2.77$0.66€0.59£0.51

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