Drinking water on the Aeolian Islands

You might wonder how drinking water is sourced to all the people on the aeolian islands, including all the tourists? I think you might be as suprised as I was when I learned about it the first time: Its done by ship! Special water ships get water from the main land (Gioia Tauro), stop by each island and also each port. The ships connect directly to the villages water system with a huge hose. The ships then will stay in the port, pumping drinking water to the island until the houses, hotel and villages water tanks are full.

While this sounds crazy and expensive there is currently no other solution. It was planned to build a water pipeline to each island which is in discussion for several decades without any solution in sight. There is also recently a discussion to use desalination plants to harvest drinking water from the sea water. Until then drinking water will be brought via ship to each household, hotel and restaurant.

Water ship connected to Filicudi port with Salina and a hydrofoil in the background.

So if you have the chance: watch how the water ship arrive and how its connected to the villages pipes. Something that you will only experience on the aeolian islands.

Eco friendly tip: saving water has even more impact on the aeolian islands – besides prepping and treating the water as you normally would, saving on water means there is less fuel spend on bringing the water to the islands.

Can I drink the tap water on the aeolian islands?

In general its not recommended. Less because its risky but mainly its taste is not great at all. By (EU) law the tap water should be drinkable. This normally means (especially in summer) that its heavily treated with chlorine to be safe. Locals in general are not using the tap water to drink for babies and children. Some households, hotels and also restaurants have water purification systems installed, that treat the tap water so its not only very safe but tastes great. There are some trials on offering treated tap water for easy refill machine for cheap in some villages (e.g. Malfa on Salina) to reduce plastic bottle waste.

Should I bring a water filter to the aoelian islands?

If you want to drink tap water instead of buying bottled water on Salina or any other aeolian island: bring a water filter! Sometimes your accommendation might already treat the water so its tasty enough to just use it straight away. In case you already own one – bring it! If you don’t have one and are unlikely to use it after – don’t buy one. Supermarkets and also restaurants have drinking water that you can buy and it will be much cheaper.

Is the tap water on Salina safe to drink?

It likely is – but its not tasting great. You can bring some cheap water tests (e.g. any multitest from amazon.com or amazon.de will do) with you if you are thinking of drinking the tap water to make sure. Usually you can see some higher (but still safe) values on nitrate and nitrite. With an additional water filter you will be able to drink the water safely. It might still taste the chlorine in the water depending on your filter. In general in off season / when its colder the water barely tastes like chlorine right out of the tap.

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