Yes, tap water in Qatar is safe to drink, according to a study done by the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) in which the drinking water in Qatar was rigorously tested and found completely safe to drink.
113 tap water and 62 bottled water samples were collected and tested across Qatar for the purposes of the study, and it was determined that the tap water in Qatar conforms to the standards set by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).
However, despite assurances from QEERI, the data the study collected after interviewing people in their homes suggests that only 30% or so of Qatar residents actually drink tap water.
The main reason for this isn’t mistrust in the reliability of government regulations on safe drinking water or the Kahramaa corporation, responsible for supplying Qatar with both water and electricity, as a whole. Rather, it’s likely Qatar citizens mistrust the water tank units where the drinking water is stored located throughout the cities.
There are some online sources that report how these units don’t get cleaned or checked for months at a time. Additionally, the tops of these tanks are allegedly often left open, which can lead to contaminants making their way into the water that residents are supposed to drink.
Since we can’t vouch for the legitimacy of these claims, we trust in the authorities’ insistence that the water in Qatar is safe to drink.
Since there has been some uncertainty around the way it’s distributed, if you don’t feel confident in it, our recommendation is that you ask the local residents, as the answer for you personally might depend on the accommodation you’re staying at and the area.
Where Does Qatar Get Its Water From?
Qatar is a desert country, and, as such, it has very few freshwater sources, and the ones it does have are pretty limited. There are no large bodies of freshwater like lakes, and the heat and dry weather don’t promote rain, so water is pretty scarce.
One of the main water supplies in the country is the Rus and Umm er Radhuma aquifer system, but its yearly water production capacity varies greatly. This system was capable of producing as much as 250.8 MCM/yr (thousand cubic meters a year) in 2017, which at least covered the 230 MCM/yr Qatar needs for agricultural purposes, but there are also bad years, like the period from 2008 to 2016, where the draw was between 97 MCM/yr and 158 MCM/yr.
The water usage in the country varies depending on the year since Qatar implements water conservation laws to regulate water usage depending on what the draw that year is. In other words, the water usage in Qatar is always going to be similar to the water draw since it has to be regulated in order to combat a potential shortage.
Around 43% of the water supply is replenished by rainfall, treated sewage effluent (TSE) replenishes 55%, and the remaining 2% is replenished thanks to the inflow from Saudi Arabia due to the shared artesian aquifer.
If you’re worried about the fact that more than half of the water in the reserves is essentially recycled wastewater, you shouldn’t be. Water from the aquifer is primarily used for agricultural purposes, and 99% of the drinking water actually comes from desalination plants like Ras Abu Fontas.
Since Qatar has salt water in excess, the obvious solution to the threat of water shortage is to simply remove the sodium from the water to make it drinkable. In 2019, Qatar produced around 1,038.16 MCM of water, 671 MCM of which came from desalination plants. The desalinated water is used in homes, whereas the collected rainwater and the recycled water are primarily used to water the fields.
Is the Water in Qatar Hard or Soft?
Considering the fact that most of the drinking water in Qatar comes from processed seawater, we’d say that it’s safe to classify it as hard water although not enough testing has been done to prove this.
However, it does lose a lot of this hardness once it goes through the filtration process. The reverse osmosis filter and the several-stage filtration process that the water goes through in the desalination process eliminate most of the salt in the water, as well as most of the minerals, like calcium and magnesium.
In essence, Qatar water is hard when it goes into the water filtration units, but it most likely comes out softened.
Who Regulates Water in Qatar?
A corporation called Kahramaa is responsible for supplying Qatar with both water and electricity. While this is a private company rather than an arm of the government, as the sole provider of both electricity and water throughout Qatar, it’s held accountable for any missteps or mismanagement of these vital resources.
Kahramaa is required to provide yearly reports on all of the relevant statistics regarding water and electricity usage in Qatar. These reports illustrate what the demand for resources looks like in the country and inform government decisions on water regulations.
The water in Qatar is considered safe to drink by the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute. It isn’t particularly healthy because it’s missing a lot of important minerals due to the desalination process, but you won’t really notice the difference or any adverse health effects unless you continually drink it for months.
However, not every building is going to have a properly maintained water tank. It would definitely be a good idea to ask around to check if the other people living in the building or hotel you’re staying in are drinking the water before you grab a glass.