Drinking water in Mexico

Drinking water in Ajijic, Chapala and Mexico in general

I am sure you are aware of the drinking water problems in Mexico. “Please don’t drink the water” is a common phrase here. But it isn’t anything to be concerned about if you just take a few precautions. Water problems can exist anywhere, even in the States. I remember one time I went to Las Vegas and got deathly sick for two weeks. I am sure it was because of the drinking water. Sometimes just going from one place to another can cause problems because your system is used to the bugs in your own water and not in different water.

Here in Lake Chapala, most people buy bottled water that holds 20 liters. Bottled water is not expensive. It costs about 20 pesos a bottle.  The price ranges from 20 to 30 pesos ($2-$3 USD).  It depends on the brand and the person selling it. You can have it delivered or buy it at a store and tip a bag boy to take it to your car, this way you don’t hurt your back. They are always nice and they don’t seem to mind helping for a tip.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as 100% pure water. Even in the States or Canada a certain amount of contaminants is allowed. I have a friend here, a biologist, and she is very particular about her water. She had a water purification system installed when she bought her home in Lake Chapala so she can drink out of the tap. It is 99.99 % pure water. I drank out of her tap many times and I didn’t get sick. The water was good. But she still buys the bottled water to drink.

I mentioned her because the water situation is very subjective. Some people aren’t bothered at all by different waters. Other people take it extremely seriously. Many of the newly constructed homes here have purified water systems so it is okay to drink the water.  The older homes in established neighborhoods usually don’t have these systems.

Water trucks come by your home weekly

The water trucks come by once a week, sometimes more often. I am aware of at least three brands. Kata, Bonafont and the other is Santorini.  My landlord only uses Santorini brand. He says it tastes better. Once I ran out of water and my landlord was gone. I had missed the water truck. I finally chased down a Kata truck and they came back to my house, took my empty Santorini bottle and sold me their brand. It tasted exactly like the Santorini water. But when my landlord returned from Canada, he was upset that I had a Kata bottle because the Santorini Company wouldn’t allow me to exchange my bottle with the Kata name on it for theirs. I had to give them a deposit for their brand. If I remember correctly, it was 60 pesos ($5 USD).

The bottles hold 20 Liters of water.  20 liters equals 5 gallons and 2.26 pints.  That is enough drinking water to last me one week. You can also use that water for soaking your vegetables.

Disinfectant solution for fruits and veggies

I soak my vegetables in a disinfectant solution that I buy in small bottles at the grocery store or pharmacy. The brand I use is albiosan. There are other brands too. I soak fruits and veggies for fifteen minutes in the solution and then I don’t wash them after that. I have heard that the solution doesn’t have to be washed off and I like to be conservative with my water.

Water in hotels and restaurants

The hotels and restaurants always use purified water and many times they leave bottles of purified water in the rooms. If it is a cheap hotel, then be careful. Make sure the water bottles are sealed. That way you will know they didn’t try to save money by refilling their bottles from the tap.

Some people use a lot of fresh lemons. They feel that fresh lemon juice squeezed on their food or in their drinking water helps to kill the bacteria.

This is all up to personal preferences. Some people brush their teeth with tap water and even drink it and have no problems. Other people are more careful.   If you don’t want to bother with the bottled water, you could always just boil your tap water for twenty minutes.

Restaurants always have safe bottled or purified water, street vendors is another story. I always eat from street vendors and I have no problems but I have been living here for three years. If your system isn’t used to this area then I would suggest that you wait awhile before embarking on the pleasures of street vendors. I only eat at places that are busy. That way I know their food is good. If the locals eat there, I trust the owners are taking care to be clean with their food. I also watch how they wash their dishes and handle money. Do they use a plastic glove to take your money and take it off to handle their food? Money is dirty. I am sure you know that.

Small bottles of water

If you are walking around town and you are thirsty, just walk into a local grocery store or liquor store and buy a small bottle. It is usually chilled. It is more expensive to buy small bottles than the large five-gallon container but who wants to carry around water all the time? I just buy it when I get thirsty and forget about it.

Refilling your 20 liter water bottle

Also, if the water truck doesn’t go to your area, you can take bottles to a water store. They sell purified water and you fill up your own containers.  But you will need a car and a strong back. Refilling your 20 liter bottle of water is less expensive than turning in your old bottle and buying a new one. A refill in Ajijic can cost anywhere from $12 – $18 pesos. They first clean out your water bottle and refill it with clean purified water, then seal it and away you go.

Tecno Agua Center e mail is gmobeltran@gmailcom Phone (376)3730 and 766 3731.  Their address is Carr.Pte, Number 250 Ranacho Del Oro… Below is the photo of the front of their store:

Installing a purified water system

If you are going to buy a house here, then I think having a purified water system installed is a good investment. I just looked in the phone book. One water store is on the main street. Their telephone number is 766-4765 and their address is Carr. Chapala-Jocotepec #39-C.  They also sell filters, pumps and other things needed for a pool.  There are nine different water treatment stores in the local telephone book.  I just put on one of them.

I hope you won’t let your worries about the drinking water keep you from enjoying Mexico. If you want more information, please contact us.

By, Evelyn Walker

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