Tap Water Safety in Sri Lanka

Can you drink the tap water in Sri Lanka?

In general, no.

The US Center for Disease Control's travel advisory recommends avoiding tap water and drinking bottled or disinfected water in Sri Lanka (source).

Like all countries though, water accessibility, sanitation, and treatment vary widely from location to location, so we encourage looking for specific city information.

What do people in Sri Lanka think about the tap water?

Tap water is not safe to drink. Use bottled or filtered water; for the former, look for the small round ‘SLSI’ logo, which shows the water has been tested by the government’s Sri Lanka Standards Institution (the majority of local brands).


Most locals drink tap water, but the governments travel website states that it is not safe. Should you choose to drink bottled water (1.5 litre for 60-70 LKR in March 2012) please make sure (essentially) that the Health Ministry registration number or SLS (Sri Lanka Standard Institute) label is present. Some bottles are refilled with tap water and then sold again. Also in some parts of the country you'll find hard water due to the high presence of lime in the soil.Fresh milk, due to the climate, spoils easily, and so is often very expensive. Powdered milk, however, is safe and is often substituted.
Visitors should avoid drinking water from the tap. It is best to stick to bottled water for both drinking and teeth brushing. Leafy, raw vegetables and salads should also be avoided, as they are washed with tap water.

The most commonly searched cities in Sri Lanka are:

For a full list of cities in Sri Lanka, scroll to the bottom of this post or click here.

World Health Organization Sri Lanka Water Summary

The World Health Organization estimates that 89 percent of Sri Lanka have access to drinkable tap water.

In Sri Lanka, like in most countries, clean tap water availability is much higher in urban areas than in rural areas, with urban area availability averages at 91%.

World Health Organization's 2017 Sri Lanka Water Data

The World Health Organization data on water quality and availability throughout Sri Lanka includes the national average, averages for urban population centers, and averages for rural areas.

Safely ManagedA location that safe, drinkable water that is free of biological or chemical contaminants available on premise.
At Least BasicSafe drinkable water is available within 30 minutes from the location
LimitedIt would take more than 30 minutes from the location to access safe, drinkable water.
YearPopulation in 1000sSafely managedAt Least BasicLimited

What Do People In Sri Lanka Think About The Tap Water?

Travelers and residents of Sri Lanka have rated the water quality and pollution as follows, according to subjective survey data.

A score of 100% is considered very high, and a score of 0% is very low. Please be cautious that "moderate to very high" water pollution is bad and the higher the rate of water quality the better.

Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility36%Moderate
Water Pollution59%Moderate
Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility64%Moderate
Water Quality41%Moderate

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View our tap water report on all cities in Sri Lanka

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