The absurdity of charged water in Dutch restaurants


By Spela Krajnc

Not serving tap water and charging for bottled water is an absurd phenomenon in Dutch restaurants that is far from being eco-friendly and should not occur in one of the greenest countries in Europe.

Although the Netherlands is known for having one of the best tap water quality and general water management in the world, as written by Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the practice of offering one in restaurants is not as common as it should be. Unless asked specifically, tap water is sometimes even refused with explanation “we don’t offer tap water here”, which happened to a student, Matt Richards, in one of the most popular restaurants in Groningen. At the recent ESN event (Erasmus Student Network) students had to pay for water, whereas tap water access was only possible at the toilet, which was “unacceptable and absurd, because the water should always be free”, said two exchange students from United States.

These are not solitude cases at all. TNS NIPO, a Dutch survey agency, made a research discovering a remarkable 75% of restaurant customers have been refused tap water. Furthermore, a petition with over 100.000 participants was signed in 2015, wanting tap water to be served in bars and restaurants without being asked.

Since Tap Water Tax, a part of Environmental Taxes Act, increased for almost 2 times between 2000 and 2015, but the actual tap water usage in food and drink industry decreased, it is not surprising that CBS (Central Agency for Statistics in the Netherlands) data show Dutch people use less water more efficiently. As discovered by, the encouragement of bottled water industry takes up to 2.000 times more energy to be produced than the same amount of tap water, which makes one wonder why discussion on payed water even exists in a country with such environmental claims as the Netherlands.



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