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Italy - Water

Every local commune in Italy is responsible for the supply of water (acqua) to the residents. The commune has control over its water supply and may adjust its pricing, based on the size of its reserves as well as the amount of rainfall received by the region.

Most people, who move into a previously occupied property, have an existing water connection. For getting water supply at a new property, occupants need to contact the water department (Ufficio Acquedotto) at their local communes. A list of Italian communes can be found at http://www.politicalresources.net/it-citiesA.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabetical_list_of_comunes_of_Italy. Along with the application form, expats and locals need to submit an identification proof as well as the tax code (codice fiscal).

Each house in Italy has a fixed, metered “indoor” water supply. If the annual water consumption in a house exceeds the set limit, additional charges apply. A separate contract is required for “outdoor” water, generally used for gardening and swimming pools.

For tenants and apartment owners, the cost of water is added to the monthly rent or the building maintenance charges. Houses that have a water meter are billed after each meter reading. The average expenditure on water per month for a small apartment with 2 occupants is about €45.00 or so. Of course, this depends entirely on the water consumption of a household.

Tap water in Rome and Venice is good enough to drink, without any boiling or filtering. There are many potable water fountains situated all across Italian towns, villages and cities. People can simply fill up their bottles from any of these drinking fountains, unless there is a plaque stating that the water isn’t potable. Most of the local and expat population in Rome & Venice uses tap water for drinking and cooking. However, this is not the case in some of the other Italian cities.

A majority of the residents (except people living in Rome & Venice) in Italian cities and towns avoid drinking tap water even at home. In some of the regions, the tap water tastes a bit strange because of excess chlorine or other chemicals. At times, tap water is hard, which could also have an adverse effect on the health. Therefore, apart from Rome & Venice, the locals rarely use tap water for drinking or cooking.

Statistics show that Italians are the largest consumers of bottled water all across Europe. For home consumption, most people pick up a 1.5-liter bottle of mineral water from a supermarket for about €0.42. Those who are on the go most of the time prefer buying 0.5 liter bottles for around €0.20. There are dozens of local and imported brands of mineral water to choose from. Some of the leading brands of bottled mineral water include Acqua Panna, Ferrarelle, Acqua di Nepi and San Pellegrino.

Unfortunately, water can be a bit more expensive when you are at a restaurant. People usually end up paying €1.00 or more, for a 0.33-liter bottle of water at a reasonably-priced eating joint. Some of the more expensive restaurants charge €2.00 for a half-liter bottle.

As a rule, dining establishments in Italy don’t serve tap water, unless specifically asked. In fact, many of the higher-end restaurants don’t serve tap water at all. Even asking a waiter to bring you some acqua del rubinetto (tap water) is regarded as a dining faux pas in certain parts of the country. This doesn’t go down very well with American and Canadian expats. Carrying your own bottled water to a restaurant is strictly another no-no. Many diners from other countries therefore avoid drinking water with their meals and opt for wine or beer instead.

Diners are always given a choice of water when they order. However, the choices include acqua naturale (plain mineral water), acqua gassata/ frizzante (sparkling/ carbonated mineral water) and acqua leggermente frizzante (lightly sparkling mineral water). After the order is placed, the bottle is brought to the table while it is still sealed and is opened in front of the diners.

Though Italy gets a good water supply from the rains each year, water shortages can appear during the summer months. Studies show that around 18% of the Italian homes experience irregular water distribution patterns. Environmental awareness in the country is growing and residents are seeking advice on how to save water.

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