Croatia has the largest water reserves in the European Union and great quality water. According to UNESCO’s research from 2014, Croatia is at 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.
Old Water Pipes
The biggest water problem in the whole country 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. Citizens pay water bills according to their consumption, but unfortunately, some pay higher bills due to great water losses.
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 huge loss amounting to 250 million kuna 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 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 on 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 with every year.
Porous pipes and outdated water supply systems can have a serious impact on a person’s health.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.
Another danger is the large amount of pesticides used in agricultural production. Pesticides used for the 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 north-west Croatia. East Slavonija has a huge problem with arsenic, manganese, and iron. Devices for arsenic neutralization are used to solve this problem and stop the groundwater pollution, which has been a serious environmental problem.
Water Safety & Quality in Croatia
Luckily, Croatia doesn’t have drinking water crisis, which for many countries has become an enormous ecological problem. Croatia has high-quality water and it is among 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. The tap water safety is monitored by the Croatian Institute for Public Health in co-operation with County Institutes on a regular basis.
The taste of tap water in Croatia mostly depends on the water 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 can be found here.
All of the above being said, let’s get real about Croatia’s water situation. Click here for a realistic editorial on the state of water safety in Croatia and whether or not you should filter your water.