Drinking water and water consumption

Waterworks of the Innsbruck municipal company.
Photo: BML / Alexander Haiden

Water taps in Austria deliver healthy, crystal clear, odourless drinking water. Drinking water is water fit for human use. Drinking water is the most essential food; it cannot be substituted by anything.

"Drinking water is water which is fit for human consumption in its native condition or after treatment without being a hazard to human health and which is unobjectionable in odour, taste and appearance."

(Definition according to the Austrian Foodstuff Book, Chapter B1)

Drinking water serves mainly nutritional purposes. In terms of volume, however, households use the lion's share for other purposes, such as showering and bathing, washing and laundry, cleaning, or the toilet flush. A further part is used in agriculture, e.g. for irrigation. An even larger portion of the water available is used in industry and trade.

The Austrian Food Safety and Consumer Protection Acts as well as the Austrian Drinking Water Ordinance ensure the wholesomeness of drinking water in Austria.

Drinking water may not contain any pathogenic microorganisms and should contain a minimum concentration of minerals. The solved minerals most frequently found in drinking water are the cautions calcium, magnesium and sodium with the corresponding anions hydrogen carbonate, chloride, and sulphate. The concentration of calcium, magnesium and some other ions are referred to summarily as water hardness.

Drinking water falls within the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Health and Women’s Affairs (BMGF). For more information, please visit the Federal Ministry's homepage.

Water consumption

The overall annual water demand in Austria is approx. 3,14 km3, which corresponds approximately to 3% of the volume available annually.

Around 70% goes to industry and commerce, 24% to water supply, around 4% to agriculture and around 2% to selected services (e.g. water requirements for snowmaking, irrigation of golf courses).

Average consumption (not including trade, industry or large-scale users) amounts to about 126 litres per day and capita (Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, 2012). This implies that an average 4-person household consumes about 184  of drinking water per year.