Not surprisingly, Tokyo has high quality water available from every faucet in the city. Japan is known for cleanliness and technology, and they combine these passions to treat their drinking water in their capital city.
There are many people who don’t like drinking from the tap and are instead willing to pay for bottles of water. The reality is that many drinking water plants produce water that is equal to or superior to bottled water. This is the case in Tokyo.
The basic quality of Tokyo drinking water is protected by 51 strict quality standards set by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, including checks for toxicity and harmful contaminants, along with tests to ensure a palatable tint, clarity, and smell. Japan’s regulations for public water supplies are more stringent than those governing bottled spring water. What takes Tokyo’s water a step higher, though, is the metropolitan waterworks’ strict treatment regimen that includes roughly 200 parameters for safety and quality.
Five treatment plants run by the Tokyo Waterworks supply the city. The Misono plant is one of the five and has a daily treatment capacity of 300,000 cubic meters (about 80 MGD) and utilizes conventional treatment along ozone and biological activated carbon. This additional step removes virtually all remaining contaminants from the water.
Ozone is a strong oxidizing agent that reacts with various contaminants, including carcinogenic compounds, along with microorganisms such as bacteria and protozoa, eliminating potential health risks and improving the taste and odor.
In the second step of the process, water flows from the ozone contact chamber to the bio filtration ponds containing different grades of biological activated carbon. In addition to filtering out organic contaminants, much like a home water purifier, the microporous carbon also supports microorganisms that break down impurities and other byproducts of ozone treatment. If left behind, these contaminants can degrade the taste and smell of water.
The quality of source water determines the level of water treatment. Tokyo currently gets 80% of its water from the Tonegawa and Arakawa Rivers, drawing the remaining 20% from the Tamagawa River. The Tamagawa is pure enough that it only needs standard treatment to make it drinkable. Tonegawa and Arakawa Rivers require the advanced treatment explained above.
In the US and Canada many large drinking water plants have adopted the ozone biofiltration treatment process. In fact, in the US over 1.6 billion gallons of water a day are treated with ozone. Many of these plants have held contests where customer try to determine which is better in a blind taste test, tap water or bottled water. In many of the cities using advanced ozone water treatment, tap water wins.