It is not safe to drink the water from the faucets in the Yucatan Peninsula. We only use the water from the faucets for washing clothes, washing the dishes and bathing. For drinking water, most people buy what is locally called garrafon
, which is basically the blue, 5-gallon bottled water that you see in offices. They have delivery service. They bring it to your house and set it up on your water dispenser. I do know some local people who drink water right off the tap. Evidently their system is used to it. For me, it’s not worth taking a chance. A garrafon of water costs only US $2, anyway.
When I first moved to Mexico, I lived in Playa del Carmen, which is one of the more developed beach areas of the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo. One day I woke up after having a lot of fun the previous night, and I went to kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee using tap water. I was only in Mexico for a week then. Within minutes after I finished my cup of coffee, it came to me, “Oh my God, you just drank the faucet water!”
I called a friend of mine, who lived very nearby and I explained to him that I drank a cup of coffee made from tap water. He asked me, “How long ago was it?” I said, “About 20 minutes to half an hour ago.” He said, “Do you feel sick?” I said, “No.” And he said, “Have you been to the bathroom?” I said, “No.” And he said, “Then you’re okay. Don’t worry about it.” And I was okay. Nothing happened.
So it’s not like you’re going to die if you drink tap water here in the beach areas, but for me, it’s not worth a gamble. For $2, if I could get a 5-gallon bottle of purified water brought to my house, why roll the dice?
I’ve had workers come over to my house to do some cement work for me who I saw them drink water out of the garden hose and they showed up for work the next day. So the quality of water here might not be that terrible.
The restaurants here around Merida (the largest city in the state of Yucatan in the Yucatan Peninsula), make their ice using purified water. As far as rinsing vegetables, I personally rinse mine using tap water and never had a problem. There is also a little bottle of liquid that you could use to purify the water. You put four drops of this liquid in a pan of water and it totally disinfects and purifies the water. Some people that I know who have moved here need to do that. My wife and I do not use that anymore because we don’t need to because our system is used to living here in Mexico.
Most of the time, when I boil potatoes, I boil them in tap water. But when I’m having company over, such as someone from the United States who is not used to Mexico, then I would boil potatoes in purified water just to be sure that they won’t get sick while they are visiting because different people have different systems.
(Hotel and club with an image of the bottled water [garafon] of Castilla in Playa Mujers, Mexico, pictured.)