Friday, March 31st 2023

How to Get Drinking Water in Mexico

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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How to Get Drinking Water in Mexico

An Article for New Expats


How to Get Drinking Water in Mexico

Mexico is famous for its beaches, its food, and its traditional music. But there’s something else that Mexico is sadly famous for: Montezuma’s Revenge. Cramps, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting—it’s awful. And, as long as I’ve lived in this wonderful country, I still get sick as well.

The most common reason why people get sick is from drinking non-potable water. That means water that isn’t safe to drink, and in Mexico, that means tap water. It should be mentioned that there are a couple cities in Mexico—like Puerto Vallarta—that have potable tap water. In fact, Puerto Vallarta has been granted the certificate of purity for its tap water for 17 years in a row!

Mexico is the country with the highest consumption of bottled water in the world. And as much as I personally condemn the bottled water industry—and its unsustainable use of groundwater—that isn’t what this article is about. It’s about how to get drinking water in Mexico.

The Garrafón

How to Get Drinking Water in Mexico

I’ve known expats who struggle with getting fresh drinking water for years. They’d go to the OXXO or other convenience stores and buy 5-liter bottles of water. This just creates a lot of plastic waste, as well as forcing you to go to the store constantly.

The first step in acclimating to your new life in Mexico is to purchase a garrafón. This is a big jug of water that holds 20-liters. That’s over 5 gallons of water. The first time you buy one, you’ll have to pay about $40 MXN pesos for the actual jug, and then another $40 MXN for the water. (That’s about $4 USD total.) You can buy them at the OXXO or any grocery store.

From then on, you can return the empty plastic jug (called an envase) to whichever store you frequent, and get a new jug—only having to pay for the water it holds—which costs about $2 USD. That’s the first step in getting drinking water in Mexico like a pro.

The Dispenser

How to Get Drinking Water in Mexico

Having the water is only half the battle. Of course, you can live this way for an extended period of time, dumping water from the garrafón into pitchers and then filling them. But if you’re going to handle drinking water in Mexico like a pro, you’re going to need some sort of dispenser.

There are a multitude of different dispensers—and if you go to the local Wal-Mart, you’re bound to find something that can help. You can get something inexpensive that will last years—if not a decade. Or you can go with some sort of fancy office-style water cooler. It all depends on your preface. I’ll just outline a couple of options.

– The Pump –

The plastic pump is one of the most common forms of dispensers throughout Mexico. Called a bomba in Spanish, this is just a simple plastic pump that dispenses water through an opening in the top. It has a rubber gasket that fits over the top. This is what I use.

*Pro-Tip: Don’t pull on the handle too forcefully. Just pull the pump slowly and eventually the water will come out. When the water level gets too low in the garrafón, remove the pump and just pour out the water. This will protect your pump throughout the years.

– The Cheap Dispenser –

There are also a lot of simple plastic dispensers available. The basic gist of these dispensers is that—when the garrafón is full—you tip the jug upside down and pour it into the dispenser. You have to do this fast, and there will be times when water is spilled. It’s a skill that comes like any other. Also, it might not be a viable solution if you’re an elderly person or infirmed. (Did I mention we sell health insurance?)

*Pro-Tip: These have to be kept clean. You can’t continue to purchase filtered water and then dump it into a dispenser that is old and moldy. It’s counterproductive. When you’re out of water, just give it a rinse, and then once a month flush it with bleach-water to make sure that it’s safe to drink from.

– The Water Cooler –

Of course, you can get to a level where you’re living in style with a temperature controlled water cooler that dispenses hot and cold water from two taps. This is second only to the house filtration system.

The Delivery Service

How to Get Drinking Water in Mexico

If that’s how far you’ve gotten, then you’re doing just fine. Unfortunately, if you’ve only gotten this far, then you’re still going to the OXXO once a week for a new garrafón.

However, real Mexican-drinking-water pros usually go with a delivery service. This is a service that delivers a garrafón of fresh water to your doorstep. This can be really good if you are elderly or struggle with limited mobility, and if you tip the worker, then they’ll likely be happy to carry the heavy jug into your home and install it into your dispenser.

The best part is that it’s usually cheaper than buying fresh garrafónes at the OXXO. I’m not going to speak in absolutes, but you can probably get a fresh garrafón delivered to your door for $20 MXN ($1 USD).

The best way to get a good delivery service is to ask locals. Mexicans are picky about their water, and they’ll usually be able to tell you right away which is the best company. Fret not, scam companies that just fill jugs with tap water don’t last long in Mexico. That’s why it’s best to ask a local which service they use.

If you don’t know anyone, type “servicio de garrafones de agua a domicilio” into Google, add your city, and you’ll get a list of businesses that service your area. Google Reviews will clue you into the best of the companies in your area.

The In-Home Filtration System

How to Get Drinking Water in Mexico

If you’re looking to go above and beyond the scope of the Mexican lifestyle, then you might want to consider an in-home water filtration system. If so, then you should check out our article on the subject.

*Click here to learn more.


How to Get Drinking Water in Mexico

Living in Mexico has more ups than downs, and though finding safe drinking water can feel like a hassle at first, eventually it just becomes part of your weekly routine. The positives far outweigh the negatives. In the end, you’ll be happy you became an expat.

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