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How to Get Safe Drinking Water in Mexico

Updated: Feb 14

Rule #1 of living in Mexico: You can’t drink the tap water. Pretty much everyone knows this. (although a few people on Facebook still ask the question)


And though I’ve met a handful of Spaniards who could get by on wine alone, I’ll admit to being pretty hooked on water. I drink a ton of it, day and night.

Once I relocated to Guadalajara, finding, buying, and carrying drinking water to whatever apartment or house I happened to be staying in at the time was top of mind.


So, where do locals buy their water?


I read somewhere that upwards of 80% of Mexicans drink filtered water too, so clean water is not merely a concern of neurotic expats.


Short of buying or renting a place with a modern water filtration system (super rare in Mexico), you’re going to have to bring it into your home yourself.


Below is an overview of the options available here in Guadalajara, along with some key terms to know when you buy -- wherever that is.



What

Garrafon is the word referring to those 20-liter, hard plastic reusable water jugs you see delivery trucks carrying around and stacked to the ceiling in convenience stores. These are the most convenient way to keep an adequate water supply around, without having to buy it every other day.


Where to buy

Garrafones can be purchased at just about any Oxxo, 7-Eleven, myriad mom-and-pop shops, chain stores like Chedrai, and by delivery. In our experience, convenience stores tend to sell out on weekends and get restocked on Monday or Tuesday, so your best bet is to buy them mid-week if your closest option is an Oxxo.


Brands & Price

Bonafont, e-pura, and Ciel are some of the popular brands in Guadalajara. Depending on where you live there are likely be other brands besides these.


Your first garrafon purchase will include a nominal fee for the container in addition to the water. When you exchange an empty garrafon for a full one, you’ll be charged for the water only.


Prices vary widely by retail location and distribution channel, from 21 pesos to more than 50 pesos in my experience.


If you're at all finicky about water, I suggest sampling each brand. My personal favorite is e-pura. I'm not a fan of Bonafont.


How to get water delivered to your door


If you don't live in an apartment tower where water trucks make scheduled deliveries, you're going to have to source water for yourself. And let's face it, a full garrafon is a beast to carry very far. You'll tire quickly of schlepping one down the street.


Thankfully there's home delivery. Some brands will leave a hang tag on your door with a phone number to call in orders. (the Bonafont guy in our neighborhood does this) Others like e-pura have a mobile app you can download to your phone to schedule deliveries whenever you need them.


Once you're settled in a particular neighborhood, you’ll probably begin to notice all kinds of small entrepreneurs passing through selling different things directly to residents.


Each vendor tends to have a distinctive call enabling residents to easily identify (after enough repetition) who's there and what's being offered, without needing to go outside. Last week I saw a guy carrying small pieces of furniture down my street looking to sell them to random passersby! I can't believe this works, but hey, things are different in Mexico.


Ok, back to water... Besides the branded water trucks, a father and son pass through our neighborhood each week in their small truck. The filtered water they supply comes from Agua de Manantial, a 13-year-old Mexican company based in Zapopan. For safety each full garrafon comes sealed with water nutrition information printed on the label, e.g. readings for PH, alkalinity, chlorides, sulfates, and calcium carbonate.


They refill garrafones from all the major water brands for 21 pesos. At the current USD/peso exchange rate that works out to just $0.06 USD per liter. I honestly have no idea how they make any money doing this. (The Oxxo where I’d been going previously charges more than double that.)


Installing a Water Filtration System


Even though swapping garrafones each week has become fairly low-maintenance, we're still dreaming of a future state where that's no longer necessary.


We’ve been talking to our plumber about installing a filtration system in our kitchen, to make food prep and cooking a lot quicker. He dissuaded us from installing a system that provides filtered water for the entire house, as it's much more costly to maintain and not really necessary in Guadalajara since water here is sufficiently clean for bathing.


Once this project is finished, I’ll write a separate post about it. In the meantime, stay hydrated out there!

 

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3 comentarios


Invitado
13 may

As a heads-up, it’s good to be aware that Bonafont water delivery by garrafon is very deceptive and, in my opinion, corrupt.

They charge you for the initial plastic garrafon, and also charge you an additional fee for the water. So, first purchase might be 115MXN, and then a fill up is now 60MXN. This suggests you are paying a deposit and will one day be able to get your money refunded when you move or install a filter or for some other reason want to return the empty garrafones. But they do not accept the empties. They claim that once you’ve bought the product(s) they are yours. Bonafont direct you to their terms and conditions here: https://bonafont.com.mx/bases-legales.

T&C say…

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Hmmm the entrepeneur water vendors are usually selling water in used garrafones they go and refill at a water machine. They are economical and when I ordered one from a pickup, after a couple days I noticed the water smelled a little off. So that water would be best used for kitchen washing, not drinking. Better to get a name brand truck delivery with sealed garrafones like Crystal etc. Interesting about the filter system and being advised not to.

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Contestando a

I understand your concerns. The garrafones we're getting delivered are filled at a water filtration company called Agua de Manantial, and come sealed with nutrition info on the label. If it ever smelled suspicious we'd dump it and switch providers, but this supplier seems legit.

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