The taste of Beijing: as much as one-sixth of barreled and bottled water sold in Beijing comes straight from the tap, according to the Beijing Bottled Drinking Water Sales Industry Association.
The report refers primarily to the type of bottled water most commonly used in office water coolers, hence the term "barreled" water. Six hundred fifty thousand barrels of water are sold in Beijing each day, each holding about 19 liters when full.
An estimated 10,000 shops offer water delivery service in Beijing, but as many as 60 percent of them are not regulated, the Xinhua News Agency reported. That means the water they sell is not subject to municipal and national water quality standards, and may come from a variety of sources, including the tap (more likely the hose out back).
Beijing tap water is not considered potable, and most residents boil water before drinking or use bottled or barreled water. However, boiling water addresses only possible bacterial contamination, and cannot reduce risk from any mineral contamination. It is the conveyance of Beijing's tap water – namely the municipal and building pipes through which it must pass before reaching you – that poses the greatest risk, not possible bacterial contamination, that makes it unpotable.
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