Tap water is often taken for granted in this country – you turn the tap on and water comes out. Every day people do this, expecting clean and safe water to come through. But where does this water come from?

Whether you’re in Manchester, London or a small village in Yorkshire the water we use is expected to be the same, even though it may be sourced from entirely different places. In this post we take you through the journey water goes through to get from source to tap!

Where exactly does my tap water come from?

Every drop initially comes from rainfall (or snow if it’s cold!). The journey water takes to get to us dictates the condition it is in and how much treatment it needs.

Unless you have a private connection, all taps in the UK get water from one of these three sources

  • Rivers
  • Groundwater
  • Reservoirs

Water from rivers will generally end up in reservoirs or go straight to pumping stations.

Groundwater is any water that collects in large underground pools. That water can come directly from rain as it filters through the soil, or off-shoots from rivers which then also filter down.

Reservoirs can be both natural and man-made. Most reservoirs in the UK were made of local rivers were no longer a viable source of water, with many being made in the mid-to-late 1800s due to an increase in demand.

How does water get to my tap?

The answer: Pipes (A LOT of pipes)

Every premises will have one pipe (the water mains). This connects you to another mains pipe in your street, which is then connected to a broader network in your area, and then your town, eventually going all the way back to your local treatment centre.

Why does tap water come from different sources?

Supply and demand will dictate where you water comes from. For example, towns in the south of England typically transfer water between one another to keep the supply moving.

If town A was suddenly using a lot of water and local supplies becoming low, the network would rely on water being transferred from town B to meet demand.

Why is some tap water hard?

This is something you will only notice is you live in the north and find yourself using water in the south (or vice versa). Although there are some exceptions there is generally a dividing line that splits the country in two between having soft water and hard water.

From roughly Nottingham going south has to rely on getting water from groundwater sources, with many of these pools being under limestone and chalk. When filtering through, water will take in some of the minerals from this ground – therefore whilst it tastes pretty much the same, you may feel a difference when showering or washing your hair!

Wherever you are in the UK, you should be guaranteed there is nothing wrong with your tap water. We are incredibly lucky in this respect and water has to meet extremely high standards for use.