Exploring the world as a backpacker can be an incredible experience. However, there is a prevalent piece of advice for backpackers out there: avoid ice when travelling. The reason behind this is that contaminated water can be an issue in many backpacker destinations around the world.
Water is one of our most essential resources, but it can be easy to take it for granted. Problems with water in different parts of the world require that backpackers educate themselves on the potentially adverse effects of consuming water abroad. After researching the potential dangers, we might think it is obvious not to drink from the tap. However, we forget that we can consume water in different ways, including using it to wash your vegetables or as a cube of ice in a drink.
While some countries boast highly regulated, clean water supplies, not all countries are so lucky. Some parts of the world are without water, while others have a lot of contaminated water. Some reasons for water contamination are:
- Industrial Waste runoff into rivers, lakes, and other water reservoirs
- Agricultural runoff into water reservoirs
- Disposal of waste in lakes, rivers, etc.
Lakes, rivers, and other water reservoirs are the leading sources for water available in our taps or other household uses. The use of unfiltered water in any form can cause the following diseases:
- Typhoid Fever
- Lead Positioning
Some countries affected by water problems
In Ukraine, tourist sites advise avoiding tap water. According to Ecozine, industrial and agricultural runoff polluted their water sources.
India is home to Chicken Tikka Masala, the Taj Mahal, and Bollywood. However, according to Best Life Online, despite the country’s vast cultural and gastronomic achievements, there exist large-scale water pollution. The water crisis in India is so bad that over 21% of the country’s diseases stem from the water supply, according to The Water Project.
Similar water problems exist around the globe, but a few countries have taken serious steps to resolve this issue. Even in Ireland, back in 2019, more than 600,000 people were distributed with “boil water” notices because of the contaminated water that came out from the river Liffey.
From 2015, legislation came into force so that Irish Water became responsible for providing water and wastewater services to the public, while 20% of the population is supplied by wells, small private supplies, and public or private group schemes.
The trick is to be conscious of how you consume water, whether it is a few cubes of ice, from a bottle or even when you wash your fruit and vegetables. In Ireland, when we don’t have access to clean water, we still have access to drinking water filters to purify our water. The advice shouldn’t just be “avoid ice”, but also be sure to research the water of the country in which you are travelling. Stay safe!