Later this month, my department (about 160 people) are being moved to a new office building.

One of the things we have been advised is that we are unable to drink the tap water as it comes from a tank on the roof and may be "unsafe". This is a surprise as this is a modern office in a major city centre and really should be plumbed into the public water supply.

Despite being "unsafe", we will have hot water machines serving this water, which will be filtered to make it "safe" for drinking. We will also have water coolers which are fed by bottles which seems ok, provided the supply will be sufficient to meet demand for an office of this size.

Having had a look at the HSE guidelines, I see the following quote:

Do I need to provide drinking water?

Yes. The law requires that you provide drinking water and ensure that:

■ ít is free from contamination and is preferably from the public water supply - bottled water dispensers are acceptable as a secondary supply;

Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg293.pdf

My two questions are:

  • Is filtering alone enough to make "unsafe" water "safe" when used in a hot water machine?
  • Does the quote from HSE imply that bottled water dispensers are only acceptable as a secondary supply e.g. a backup plan to accompany working, public water supply taps?
  • 1
    Has the tank water been evaluated ? If it is evaluated as proper water I don't think there is any problem. (At least it is how it works in France, but I don't know how UK), hope it helps :)
    – Gautier C
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 9:33
  • 10
    This is not a question for random people on the internet. You need to get definitive guidance on what UK law requires, as well as expert opinion on what makes water safe.
    – user45590
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 9:53
  • 1
    Contact an expert or the HSE. The "dispensers" potentially refer to actual bottles instead of a water bottle (= jug) cooler that provides a form of running water supply but there's no clear evidence either way.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 10:16
  • 2
    I'd be surprised if the building wasn't fed from the public supply - where does the water in the tank come from? I suppose it could be from a borehole, but that seems unlikely in a city. The hot water will be filtered and heated, so two opportunities to remove any nasties.
    – Simon B
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 12:17
  • 2
    "One of the things we have been advised is that we are unable to drink the tap water" -- who advised you this? Are you are paying this party money to provide an office space? If so, why do you find the water situation acceptable?
    – Brandin
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


Issue one: Have someone come over and inspect the boiled water and the "unsafe water".

Issue Two: Ask your firm's lawyers or human resources department about this.

I can't say if your water is safe or not from Germany. All I know is you don't want to risk it, so get an expert. When and if someone gets sick they can't blame the water, because an expert cleared the water or you have removed the water because it was declared unsafe.

I am assuming the building is being rented, ask to get the water lines connected to the sinks so you have tap water.

  • "You don't want to risk..." Both as employer and employee. Especially as an employee. Because it could damage your health. And especially as an employer. Because it could damage your financial health.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 12:33
  • Ask someone else is not really an acceptable answer here. This is a valid comment but does not provide an answer to the question. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 16:46

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