The water on our planet is in a constant cycle of precipitation and transpiration. It is not a finite resource like oil or gas. It is not possible to "use up" water. It is merely used and reintroduced into the water cycle.
The amount of water available in different countries varies greatly. Germany is very rich in water resources. In total, about a quarter of the available water resources are being used, and some four percent of that amount is used as drinking water. In order to lessen the demands on the water balance, we need to use water carefully. Using less water means, first and foremost, producing less waste water, but also saving energy in water supply and waste water treatment. Another aspect of sound water management is avoiding unnecessary pollution and contamination of water.
Legal basis and competences
The Drinking Water Ordinance (Trinkwasserverordnung) of the Federal Ministry of Health governs the quality of drinking water, the most important foodstuff there is. The ordinance is enforced at Länder level.
Current situation in Germany
The "consumption" of water, for example use of water, has been decreasing in Germany over the past fifteen years. Over the past three years, the average consumption of drinking water was between 120 and 123 litres per person and day. Compared to other industrialised countries, that figure is rather low. But there is still room for improvement. Everyone can and should help to further decrease water consumption by saving water.
Also counting spring water and bank-filtered water, groundwater accounts for more than 70 percent of drinking water in Germany, which makes it the most important resource for drinking water. Apart from some regional exceptions, there are no problems regarding the amount of available groundwater. The available water resources vary greatly, however, in the different regions of Germany. This is due to different volumes of precipitation, the amount of available groundwater and the existence of surface waters. Another key aspect is water demand, which is particularly high in conurbations.
Extraction of drinking water
The quality of drinking water in Germany is good or very good. It is regularly monitored at short intervals and complies with the stringent quality requirements of the Drinking Water Ordinance.
Studies carried out for the German Environmental Survey of the German Environment Agency show that the quality of drinking water in private homes also depends on the pipes and fittings and can be different from that in water works depending on the treatment processes used. Since drinking water pipes made of lead were used in private homes up until the 1970s, some households still show higher lead contents in their drinking water because lead gathers in the water standing in the pipes at night.
For more information on drinking water, please visit the German Environment Agency's website. The site contains a detailed report (German) on the quality of drinking water in Germany as well as brochures with the most important facts about drinking water.