Across Germany, there are only 1,300 drinking water fountains for members of the public.
But now the government wants to change that. They are set to order cities and districts to set up more points for people to get access to tap water in public places.
In future, drinking water from the mains network must be freely available in as many public places as possible, said the Federal Environment Ministry following a cabinet decision.
“Access to drinking water must be as easy as possible for everyone in Germany,” said Environment Minister Steffi Lemke.
“Drinking fountains with tap water are one of the basic building blocks of good heat prevention,” said the Green politician, referring to extreme weather events such as heatwaves and dry periods.
And because the water is provided without any packaging, the environment also benefits, Lemke said.
At least 1,000 additional drinking water fountains will be added to the current supply, almost doubling the amount.
According to the draft law, water fountains are to be part of the public water supply as standard in future. Cities and municipalities have “extensive flexibility” in the location, exact number and type of drinking fountains, the government says.
Germany is known for having a tricky relationship with tap water. Most Germans are still in favour of buying bottled water rather than drinking from the tap, even though it is safe to do so.
The culture has changed slightly in recent years, but many restaurants and cafes across Germany still think it is strange when people ask for tap water for the table. Some places will refuse to serve it completely.
The push to install more public drinking water spots goes back to an EU requirement.
At the end of 2020, the EU Parliament, the Commission and the member states agreed on a reform of the Drinking Water Directive. As well as stricter requirements for the quality of drinking water with regard to pollutants, it also stipulates for better access to water in public places.
Drinking fountain – (der) Trinkwasserbrunnen
As simply as possible – so einfach wie möglich
Tap water – (das) Leitungswasser
Extreme weather events – (die) Extremwetterereignisse
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