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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Study: Contrary to public opinion, Qatar tap water ‘very safe’

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A new study has produced more evidence that Qatar’s tap water is safe to drink in many homes, contrary to public perceptions that it becomes contaminated while sitting in residential storage tanks or flowing through a building’s pipes.

The preliminary results, released yesterday, are based on unfiltered tap water samples taken from more than 100 villas, high-rise flats and portacabins across the country by the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), which is part of Qatar Foundation.

“The results show it to be very safe,” public health researcher Candace Rowell told Doha News. “The perception is very contradictory to the actual risk.”

The findings from Rowell and her colleagues reinforce the conclusions of previous studies by the Supreme Council of Health, the Qatar Science and Technology Park and local utility provider Kahramaa.

Despite a growing body of research, many residents here continue to eschew tap water in favor of bottled water. Some also install filters on their kitchen faucets and shower heads, amid perceptions that rusting pipes and unhygienic storage tanks can cause ill health effects.

While there appears to be relative confidence in the quality of the water that is desalinated and piped to homes by Kahramaa, many tenants are suspicious of how well their landlords maintain and clean their water tanks, as well as the materials used to pipe it into their individual homes.

Results

Those suspicions were something that QEERI researchers “wanted to clear up,” said Rowell, who said she has consumed local tap water without ill effect since moving to Qatar roughly two and a half years ago.

For illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Samples were analyzed for chemical contaminants such as arsenic and chromium.

While the full results will be published in a scientific journal at a later date, Rowell said the conclusions were “very positive” and that she was surprised how far the local samples fell below maximum thresholds set out the World Health Organization.

“We didn’t see leachate from the piping or the (storage) containers – even in the hot months,” Rowell said.

“They are holding up to the conditions … without putting their own materials in the water.”

Bottled water

The QEERI study also sampled bottled water purchased from markets across Qatar. Again, contaminant levels were well within acceptable ranges.

However, some imported water was found to have higher levels of naturally occurring contaminants such as arsenic than tap water or locally bottled water.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Researcher suspect this is likely because such elements are present in rocks or sediments and can leach into freshwater sources.

Along with publishing their full findings, researchers are planning to investigate what is influencing perceptions of local water quality, and how to effectively communicate the general safety of tap water.

QEERI researchers said their interviews found that only about 30 percent of respondents regularly drink tap water.

Their inquiry comes as Kahramaa reviews the results of an online survey it conducted earlier this month that asked local residents about their sources of drinking water, as well as if they trust Kahramaa’s water quality.

Thoughts?

30 COMMENTS

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Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

I know that Kahramaa water is safe, but I prefer to buy the large bottled water and put it in the water dispenser. I do not have a problem with the water itself but I find the water dispenser convenient as it provides cold and hot water. It is also cheap and you can get it delivered. And most importantly, it is still tap water but refiltered multiple times to make it very clean, so I am not wasting the country’s money in importing some special water from Europe that is later sold to people at an extortionate rate.

Haku
Haku
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

You obviously work for Evian or somewhere similar.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Haku

I think you misunderstood my comment, I am actually against Evian and the likes, and I think it is stupid they keep importing them when they have enough resources desalinating and purifying water.

Calpurnia
Calpurnia
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Plastic bottles are not the solution. The large one contain BPA, and the other contain antimony, which are both toxic. Any plastic is just toxic for humans and animals, and scientists are just beginning to understand it.
I prefer glass bottled water for drinking and filtered tap water for cooking.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

what if the water bottles/dispensers are made of plastic and left in the sun? The amount of invisible s%^t you drink is there, but you don’t see it.
With a proper filter you can drink local water and be safe.
The only issue would be the water tank on the top of the roof, considering that in most compounds maintenance does not clean them or have a clue of how to clean them.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

Our compound is fairly new and clean. I do trust the management and I think, since some of them live already there with their families. Now as I said, I prefer bottled water for convenience. With regards to your point about plastic bottles left in the sun, well one reason these bottles are blueish is to minimize the impact of the sun. I have also been few times to the water plant in the Industrial Area and Zi have not seen one single bottle in the sun. Everything is done inside and stored in a covered space. Eventually, there is no zero risk, but for now the risk levels seem to be acceptable for me.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

you’re lucky to live in a compound where also management lives.
However, the color blue it not a deterrent to impact the sun. The most important thing is the material of the bottles: plastic vs glass. And yes then color blue or dark green it is another important factor.

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago

I don’t drink any water.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

You drink urine.

AnonymityBreedsContempt
AnonymityBreedsContempt
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Bear Ghrylls?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

That wasn’t me. Imposter!

It’s flattering of course.

Elusive Snake
Elusive Snake
6 years ago

“Very” safe huh?! Drink at your own risk…..

Blue
Blue
6 years ago

Need my villa water sample to be taken prior to convincing me to change!! Random sampling technique ain’t going to convince the public with varied degrees of quality and hygiene maintained by compounds, apts.

From the desalination plant, I have no doubt of its purity – it is tank outside my villa which I’m concerned on together with the pipes.

Al Kohol
Al Kohol
6 years ago
Reply to  Blue

Only would I trust it if they monitor my pipes and the tank on a monthly basis and issue a certificate online and on the building that everyone can see… That’d be shocking for a number of people, landlords and that karma water company.

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  Blue

I agree, Better safe than sorry

DK
DK
6 years ago
Reply to  Blue

In my nine years of stay in Doha, I have not seen my landlord clean storage tank even once (I repeat, not even once!). How can we even think of consuming Kahramaa water knowing very well that tons of dust is accumulated in local storage tank. Same is condition of many other buildings in my area – Najma. Unless Kahramaa or Municipality makes it mandatory for landlords to clean and retain the record, followed by random checking of water samples from Water tank, situation would not improve and confidence in water quality would not be restored. DK

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

The issue for me is the poor standard of knowledge and application that I’ve experienced from property maintenance staff. I just wouldn’t trust the water arriving at my tap to be fit for consumption unless I got regular test results that proved it was

AnonymityBreedsContempt
AnonymityBreedsContempt
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

It would be nice if there were a local water test you could purchase.

sadam
sadam
6 years ago

an old indian friend of mine developed complications in his kidney…cause he drank tap water here. please watchout for the sodium contents of your water ..also if you have lower back problems might be your kidneys it’s either you have to drink enough water or switch brands of your mineral water

Blue
Blue
6 years ago
Reply to  sadam

I’ve heard of other cases as well – some state it is the sodium content in certain brands of water. (Sodium level stated on the bottles – Nestle apparently high).

What is the sodium levels of tap water?

Any research done on this? – what are the long term effects of drinking water with high mineral content??

Jam
Jam
6 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Have tried to drink tap water, but I had observed that the taste of the water early in the morning(first flow) tastes differently..second, it’s color is a little yellowish?..

Dobbin_the_Wonder_Horse
Dobbin_the_Wonder_Horse
6 years ago

Almost a decade of drinking unfiltered tap water with no problem.

Mr. B
6 years ago

The bottled water lobby has done a helluva job in Qatar.

AnonymityBreedsContempt
AnonymityBreedsContempt
6 years ago

It is the deep distrust of greedy landlords that leads to the lack of trust in drinking water quality.

Big Sumo
Big Sumo
6 years ago

Anyone know if fluoride is added? I don’t drink tap water as I see what it does to my kettle after a month but given its completely safe maybe we should start pressuring restaurants in Doha to at least offer it, instead of stupid 30q for imported water. I think we should at least have the option, restaurant water prices are ridiculous.

Blue
Blue
6 years ago
Reply to  Big Sumo

Restaurants serve you bottled water as the profit margins are high – now if they serve you tap water, maffi fluus , so unlikely.

hawkeye31
hawkeye31
6 years ago
Reply to  Big Sumo

Anybody know the answer to this? I’d really like to know if the water is fluoridated or not. Also bottled water – do they add fluoride to that?

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago

First of all, QEERI is hardly an independent investigator. It’s government funded. The group went in with a half-baked agenda of WANTING to show the water is safe, hardly a scientific method of investigation:
“Those suspicions were something that QEERI researchers “wanted to clear up,” said Rowell, who said she has consumed local tap water without ill effect since moving to Qatar roughly two and a half years ago.”

Second, 100 is not a sufficient sample size of an urban population of 2 million people. Third, Qatar should aim to be better than the maximum thresholds set by the World Health Organization, which are low standards indeed because they check for a very very very very limited number of things (mostly chemical contaminants that would most likely be found in well and ground water, not the desalinated water of Qatar).

The problem isn’t the water itself, it is the containment systems outside apartments and, especially, individual villas. Those are subject to all sorts of outside infiltrations unless they are regularly cleaned and maintained. The fact that they are allowed to heat up in the summer makes them a breading ground for bacteria if they are not cleaned and maintained. So much of the safety comes down to individual villas and compounds and their records of health and safety.

Peter Pickle
Peter Pickle
6 years ago

No, I don’t trust the tap water in Qatar. Never in a 100 years.

Coco
Coco
6 years ago

Does this mean I can bottle it and make a profit? Oh wait…

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