How can we develop appreciation for mundane tap water?

The Netherlands is one of the countries with the most pure tapwater in the world. You would think that Dutch people would pray on their knees in front of their tapwater shrine (the sink) to have this amazing abundance of fresh, clear water. Sometimes even more pure than bottled water in plastic.

Holland has one of the purest tap water in the world. It is widely used for drinking, but the same water is also used for other daily needs, such as for showering, washing ourselves and our cars, watering the lawns and flushing toilets(!) Tap water comes from various parts of the country, and water from each region has a noticeable difference in taste. The government tells people to not waste water but most people do not feel particularly proud about tap water. Since there is no emotional connection between them and the water people seem to take it for granted.

So, tapwater has a different flavour from place to place but as most people do not travel around the country for tasting sessions, most people are not aware of this phenomenon.

So we brought water from each of the 12 Dutch province capitals and collected them at one spot. Each variety was exhibited in 130 one-litre bottles. This number signifies the amount of water used by the average Dutch person for their various daily needs. 

We gathered the bottles in an abandoned water basin which was a unique experience, because you rarely find different kinds of water put together in one place.

Marije’s tapwater tasting is a real eye opener (or tongue teaser?) No water from the tap tastes the same and Marije has visualised this perfectly. The why and how is made incredibly clear in the simplest way.

Ranti Tjan Director Sundaymorning@EKWC

This is a water tasting experience that also acts as a contest. Visitors could taste and compare the flavours of the various types of tapwater and vote for a winner of the Grand Tapwater Prize.

Interestingly enough, many people voted for their own ‘home’ water. First I I thought this had something to do with chauvinist pride but later I realised that people are generally most attached to what they know the best. Their home water is like their ‘base taste’.

With this project I want to raise awareness about the value of tap water. 

When it comes to wine, people are concerned with the ‘terroir’ of the wine.

Wine is tasted, discussed, appreciated. People want to pay good money for wine. But tapwater has terroir as well and the moment you can appreciate water through its distinct flavour you will perceive the value of water in a new way.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could treat tap water the same way as wine? Why don’t we say: “Tonight we’re eating fish, to pair with that I’ll get some Amsterdam tap water. Tomorrow we’ll eat a smoked vegetable dish. Maybe I should get some Utrecht tap water…”

The National tapwater tasting was created for

Rioolgemaal Moerenburg
in Tilburg in 2006

Part of Solo exhibition FUEL
At Galerie Mama in Rotterdam in 2007

And part of the permanent collection
at Sunday morning @EKWC in Oisterwijk since 2016

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