Tap water not safe to drink, residents of Dutch towns warned

Tap water not safe to drink, residents of Dutch towns warned

EDIT: Vitens has lifted the advice for residents of Didam and Zevenaar to boil tap water before use. The water is now safe to drink as normal.

Residents across three Dutch towns have recently been warned not to drink the water from their taps, after the local water company discovered it was contaminated with the bacteria enterococci. 

Bacteria-contaminated tap water in Doorn, Didam and Zevenaar

The Netherlands might pride itself on its high-quality water, but this fact hasn’t been true for locals across three Dutch towns in recent weeks. Since the beginning of August, residents in almost 20.000 households across Doorn (a municipality near Utrecht), Didam and Zevenaar (both near Arnhem) have been told by the water company Vitens to avoid making use of their tap water. 

The warning came after Vitens discovered that the water in these areas had been contaminated with enterococci; a lactic acid bacteria which if ingested can, in rare cases, cause stomach flu-like symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. It’s not clear how the water in these towns became contaminated. 

Boil the water before using, Vitens advises

While residents can continue to bathe as normal, the contamination does have consequences for water consumption. Those using water to cook, brush their teeth, give to their pets or drink themselves have been advised to boil the water for at least three minutes before use. Vitens has told families to “use bottled water [if] bottle feeding. This way you can be completely sure that your child is not at risk.”

While the situation has been resolved in Doorn, the warning is still in place in Didam and Zevenaar. Vitens says it will “inform customers as soon as the boiling advice no longer applies.” Talking to NOS, a spokesperson for the company emphasised that the contaminated water reservoirs in these towns would not impact water quality across the rest of the country.

Thumb: LedyX via

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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