30 million of the 60 million people who today live in the Rhine watershed drink treated Rhine water which in most cases is produced from riverbank filtrate. Rhine water that has been cleaned when percolating different layers of earth and gravel for months is mostly being delivered from wells. The raw water then undergoes several treatment procedures in the water works. However, apart from surface waters, groundwater is the most important drinking water source.
The supply of raw water for drinking water supply has high demands with respect to all substance inputs, in particular the input of wastewater, precipitation water and mixed water as well as to effluents from farms and diffuse inputs (direct or via the groundwater).
Furthermore, the European Water Framework Directive requires “good quantitative status” for groundwater in order to grant sufficient amounts of water and a “good chemical status” in order to grant a sufficient quality of this largest source of drinking water for man.
that people have never directly drunk water from the Rhine?
The Rhine has always transported too large amounts of suspended matter to allow perfect drinking water quality.
The Romans already led Rhine through an aqueduct from the Eifel mountains to Cologne.
Today, requirements to drinking water quality are much more strict than those applicable to mineral water.