Published: July 13, 2018

    2018 World Cup Countries: Which One Has the Best Water Quality?

    The world’s most watched and most revered sporting event is underway, and as the group matches rumble on we thought we’d get to the bottom of a question no other outlet is going to ask: out of the 32 qualifying countries, which one has the best water quality?

    While stars like Lionel Messi can lift a country like Argentina to greatness, it will take more than fancy footwork and fan adoration to pass our World Cup Test.


    While the overall reliability of Argentina’s water supply has improved over recent years, there remains a disparity between the water quality in urban and rural environments. While government officials conclude that the tap water in Buenos Aires is safe to drink, residents in rural communities may not have access to piped water at all. This resorts to citizens drinking well water tainted with chromium, copper, zinc, and arsenic, according to the Borgen Project.


    Twenty years ago officials in the home country of World Cup legend Cristiano Ronaldo could only guarantee about 50% of the water was safe to drink. After a massive initiative spanning two decades that rate is now at 98%, meaning the drinking water in most urban areas is considered safe. Many of the earlier problems stemmed from splitting up water quality monitoring responsibilities among several agencies.


    The reigning champions of the World Cup have another impressive accolade: their tap water is incredibly pure and safe to drink in most regions. Generally, the water passes all the cleanliness standards you would expect. However, the plastic study from Orb Media we’ve referenced before found that 72% of tap water in Europe contained microplastics, including the water in Germany. In addition, the water is treated with chlorine, which can cause an unwanted smell, taste, and can create unwanted byproducts.


    Spain, like Germany and Portugal, is also located in Western Europe and has safe drinking water overall. However, the country that took home the trophy in 2010 sees varying water quality as you travel from city to city. For example, the water quality in Madrid is consistently high and the water is free from most impurities, but the water in Barcelona recently tested high for microorganisms like viruses and cysts. Maybe consider a UV water filter if you live in Spain.


    The manger of the Senegal team, Aliou Cisse, recently claimed he is “certain” the African country will be victorious at the World Cup. In Senegal, access to clean drinking water is still a goal that is being actively pursued by officials. Currently 90% of citizens have reliable access to drinking water. The sanitation of the water is also a cause for concern: past studies indicate that the Senegal River has contained high levels of bacteria one multiple occasions.


    The host of this year’s World Cup has some ground to cover in the realm of water quality. Sewage and industrial waste are often dumped into water supplies, and travel websites indicate the water is fine for brushing your teeth but not for drinking. Most of the country’s population – 60% – drinks water from contaminated wells.

    In the World Cup of Water Cleanliness, we have to award the trophy to Germany. Congratulations! While you continue to watch each match with your friends and family remember that a wayward microorganism or chemical can cause grave problems – stay safe and stay healthy by choosing the water filtration system that’s right for your water.