Is tap water safe to drink in Croatia?

Pouring a glass of water in Croatia
Pouring a glass of water in Croatia

UPDATED: 10.4.2024.

Croatia has the largest water reserves in the European Union and great quality water. According to UNESCO’s research from 2014, Croatia is in the top 5th in Europe and 42nd in the world for its water availability and rich water resources.

Unfortunately, a very large amount of water is lost because approximately 80% of water is wasted in Croatian water pipelines. The water mostly drains off from the water system. This occurs primarily because the pipes are too old. Some are more than 50 years old.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Old water pipes problem in Croatia

The biggest water problem in Croatia is old pipes. Pipes are not replaced on time, and as a result, a large amount of water is wasted.

This problem is the most obvious in the largest cities with the oldest water supply networks. Residents pay water bills according to their consumption, but unfortunately, some pay higher bills due to great water losses. You can learn how to pay a bill in Croatia here.

[Read: How to set up utilities for a property in Croatia]

Zagreb has a constant problem with water waste because its water supply network is more than 40 years old. Approximately 48% of water drains out of the system, which is a financial loss of approximately 33.2 million euros annually.

Except for the age of the pipes, materials also play a significant role. Pipes are mostly made of five to six different materials, and each material has a different reaction to external stimuli.

For example, some pipes are made of grey iron, are 60 to 70 years old, and have terrible water pressures. Aggregates and hydrophone installations are older than 25 years, and water tanks are more than 50 years old.

Several water supply zones in Zagreb are at higher altitudes, so the water has to be pumped under different pressures. The pipelines are too old to handle this, resulting in damage and ruptures. Existing water reservoirs don’t have enough capacity, causing problems with water pressure. In addition, water wells have become more polluted every year.

Water pollution in Croatia

Porous pipes and outdated water supply systems can have a serious impact on a person’s health. Old water pipes don’t satisfy health and security measures. Water flowing through these pipes often isn’t clean or safe enough.

[Read: Do I need to filter the water in Croatia?]

Another danger is the large number of pesticides used in agricultural production. Pesticides used for protection against parasites or as a plant supplement seep into the ground and enter the groundwater. Inadequate care for communal waste is also polluting groundwater.

The most endangered areas are east Slavonija and northwest Croatia. East Slavonija has a huge problem with arsenic, manganese, and iron. Devices for arsenic neutralization are used to solve this problem and stop groundwater pollution, which has been a serious environmental problem.

[Read: GMO in Croatia]

Water safety and quality in Croatia

Luckily, Croatia doesn’t have a drinking water crisis, which has become an enormous ecological problem for many countries. Croatia has high-quality water, and it is among the 30 richest countries in the world in terms of water resources. The country belongs to a very small group of countries that don’t currently have a drinking water problem.

Croatians can safely drink water from faucets, while most European citizens use tap water only for hygiene. Only 5% of water samples in Croatia yield results bad enough to ban drinking from the tap. Residents are usually informed of any risk promptly.

Everyone plugged into the public water system has access to completely safe tap water. Hrvatski zavod za javno zdravstvno – HZJZ (Croatian Institute for Public Health), in cooperation with županijski zavodi (county institutes), monitors tap water safety on a regular basis.

Every year, HZJZ publishes a report on the healthiness of water for human consumption, which is publicly available here.

[Read: Hrvatski zavod za javno zdravstvo (HZJZ) – Croatian Institute for Public Health]

Note: Nothing is added to drinking water in Croatia during the water treatment.

The taste of tap water in Croatia mostly depends on the water’s hardness. Southern Croatia has the cleanest water. Split, Solin, Kaštela, Trogir, and surrounding places consume high-quality water from the Jadro River. The water from the source of River Cetina is one of the five cleanest water sources in Europe.

Lika is the richest with water reserves and has minimal environmental pollution, so the water is very safe for drinking. Karlovac County also has high-quality water coming from groundwater reserves.

Maps of the tap water quality broken down by each county in Croatia are available here.

All of the above being said, let’s get real about Croatia’s water situation and be grateful for drinking high-quality water.

View our other ecology posts

Znate li gdje je najbolja voda u Hrvatskoj by Vitomir Dragčević
Karta vode by Paula Osojnik

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

Sharing is Caring:

We only send one email a week on Tuesdays. And no spam, we don't like that either!

Subscribe to the Expat in Croatia Newsletter and get our FREE Croatia Starter Kit.
I'm already subscribed.