Is it Safe to Drink Tap Water in Prague? Local’s Guide (2024)

Adriana and Matej Discovering Prague

Written by local experts Adriana & Matěj

Adriana and Matěj Halouskovi are travel bloggers behind the successful blog Czech the World.

Matěj was born in Prague and has lived here his entire life and Adriana moved here 6 years ago.

We have traveled to more than 60 countries, but if we could tell you what place we know the most, it is our city

Prague, a city renowned for its rich history and stunning architecture, is also a place where practical matters, like the quality of drinking water, are given top priority.

This article gives you a quick look at how Prague keeps its water clean and where it comes from. We’ve got our facts from Prague Water and Sewage’s official website, so you’re getting the real deal on the city’s water sources and purification.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Prague?

Tap water in Prague is safe to drink. The city’s water undergoes strict quality control and meets Czech and EU quality standards. This includes regular testing for a variety of chemical and microbiological parameters.

Locals commonly drink tap water, and you’ll find water fountains throughout the city where you can refill your water bottle. The tap water in Prague is known for its good quality, making it a safe and convenient option for hydration.

For us locals, it’s unimaginable not to have drinking water straight from the tap. In fact, whenever we travel to countries where tap water isn’t safe to drink, we really appreciate the luxury of having access to clean drinking water everywhere at home.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Prague?

Drinking Tap Water in Czech Republic

The safety and quality of tap water in the Czech Republic are generally high, making it safe to drink in most areas.

Are there any places with non-potable water?

It’s rare but possible to find tap water that isn’t safe to drink. This usually happens in places like portable toilets or in some old buildings with outdated plumbing. In these cases, the water sources are clearly marked to inform the public. You will typically see signs with a crossed-out cup symbol or notices stating that the water is not suitable for drinking.

Is water free in restaurants in Prague?

In Prague, it’s common for restaurants to serve bottled water, which is usually charged. Unlike some other countries, free tap water is not a standard offering in most of the Czech restaurants.

However, policies can vary by establishment. It’s always best to ask whether tap water is available and if it’s free of charge when dining out in Czechia.

Is water free in restaurants in Prague?

Water Safety in Prague

The tap water supplied throughout Prague by Prague Water and Sewage is completely safe and meets the parameters of the Czech Ministry of Health’s ordinance No. 252/2004 Coll. This ordinance sets requirements for drinking and hot water, including its testing frequency and scope, under the Public Health Protection Act No. 258/2000 Coll. Prague’s water complies with both local and European standards in physical, chemical, microbiological, and biological aspects and is regularly monitored.

Water Quality Monitoring

Prague Water and Sewage (PVK) oversees the entire journey of drinking water to consumers, ensuring quality through rigorous testing. This involves multiple stages of control, from initial sampling at the water treatment plant to checks at various points in the distribution network and at the consumer’s end.

The process assesses over a hundred different chemical, sensory, physical, microbiological, and biological parameters, utilizing both laboratory analyses and online probes. Notably, water toxicity is biologically indicated using rainbow trout. Key indicators such as water temperature, chlorine, iron content, and turbidity are measured on-site, while other parameters are analyzed in PVK’s accredited laboratory, which tests over 15,000 water samples annually.

Risk management during water collection, production, and distribution aligns with Act No. 258/2000 Coll. on public health protection, as amended. This includes the ‘Operational Regulations for Drinking Water Supply in Prague,’ complying with legal requirements for water quality control and hygiene.

Water Quality Monitoring

Water Hardness

Water hardness isn’t uniformly defined in literature, but it generally refers to the content of multivalent metal cations, especially calcium and magnesium, contributing significantly to water’s mineralization. Hard water contains higher amounts of these elements.

Various hardness units are often encountered, especially when purchasing appliances like washing machines or dishwashers, where hardness is usually expressed in German or French degrees. Hardness, defined as the sum of calcium and magnesium, is measured in mmol/l (millimoles per liter).

Both extremely soft and hard water are undesirable for health and technical reasons. Determining optimal drinking water hardness is complex, as health and technical requirements may not always align.

Prague’s drinking water is usually soft to moderately hard, varying based on its source – whether from Želivka, Káraný, Podolí water treatment plants, or a mix of these sources.

The limit for water hardness and the concentration of calcium and magnesium is given as a recommended value, indicating a non-binding quality indicator for drinking water. For health purposes, the ordinance suggests optimal consumption water should have 2.0 – 3.5 mmol/l. Higher values aren’t a health issue but can negatively impact household appliances by forming limescale.

Water Hardnessmmol/l°dH (German degrees)°f (French degrees)
Very Hard> 3.76> 21.01> 37.51
Hard2.51 – 3.7514.01 – 2125.01 – 37.5
Moderately Hard1.26 – 2.57.01 – 1412.51 – 25
Soft0.7 – 1.253.9 – 77 – 12.5
Very Soft< 0.7< 3.9< 7
Water Hardness

Prague Water Treatment Plants

Prague Waterworks operates the Káraný and Podolí water treatment plants. The Želivka water treatment plant has been operated by Želivská provozní, a.s. since November 6, 2013.

Káraný Water Treatment Plant

The Káraný plant, operational since 1914, ensures quality drinking water for Prague. It sources groundwater through 680 wells along the Jizera River. The water, with a capacity of about 900 l/s, is transported to the main pumping station in Káraný. Another significant source is artificial infiltration from the Jizera River, with a system capacity of 700 – 900 l/s. The water, treated with chlorine, is pumped to Prague reservoirs.

Podolí Water Treatment Plant

Reopened in June 2021 after a comprehensive modernization, the Podolí plant now includes granulated activated carbon filtration, improving removal of pesticides and contaminants. Water is drawn from the Vltava River and treated with UV radiation and chlorine. The plant’s capacity post-reconstruction is about 1200 l/s.

Želivka Water Treatment Plant

The largest in Prague, the Želivka plant delivers water through a 51.97 km tunnel. Operational since 1972, it draws water from the Švihov reservoir, treating it with coagulation filtration, ozonation, and granulated activated carbon filtration. The treated water is secured with chlorine and delivered to the Jesenice reservoir.

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