AskDefine | Define potable

Dictionary Definition

potable adj : of alcoholic beverages that are suitable for drinking; "it's an impudent young wine but I think you will find it quite potable" n : any liquid suitable for drinking; "may I take your beverage order?" [syn: beverage, drink, drinkable]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /"po(U).t@.b5/
  • /'po(ʊ).tə.bɫ/, /pəʊtəbl̩/


From potable.



  1. good for drinking without fear of poisoning or disease.



good for drinking

Derived terms



From potabilis (verb: potare "to drink").



  1. potable



  1. potable

Extensive Definition

Water of sufficient quality to serve as drinking water is termed potable water whether it is used as such or not. Although many sources are utilized by humans, some contain disease vectors or pathogens and cause long-term health problems if they do not meet certain water quality guidelines. Water that is not harmful for human beings is sometimes called safe water, water which is not contaminated to the extent of being unhealthy. The available supply of drinking water is an important criterion of carrying capacity, the population level that can be supported by planet Earth.
Typically water supply networks deliver single or multiple qualities of water, whether it is to be used for drinking, washing or landscape irrigation; one counterexample is urban China, where drinking water can be optionally delivered by a separate tap. In the United States, public drinking water is governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).


Water is necessary for all life on Earth. Humans can survive for several weeks without food, but for only a few days without water. A constant supply is needed to replenish the fluids lost through normal physiological activities, such as respiration, sweating and urination. In terms of mineral nutrients intake, it is unclear what the drinking water contribution is. However, inorganic minerals generally enter surface water and ground water due to the Earth's crust. Treatment processes also lead to the presence of some mineral nutrients. Examples include fluoride, calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphate, and sodium compounds. Water generated from the biochemical metabolism of nutrients provides a significant proportion of the daily water requirements for some arthropods and desert animals, but provides only a small fraction of a human's necessary intake. There are a variety of trace elements present in virtually all potable water, some of which play a role in metabolism; for example sodium, potassium and chloride are common chemicals found in very small amounts in most waters, and these elements play a role (not necessarily major) in body metabolism. Other elements such as fluoride, while beneficial in low concentrations, can cause dental problems and other issues when present at high levels. Water is essential for the growth and maintenance of our bodies, as it is involved in a number of biological processes.


Reference daily intake for water is 3.7 L/day for human males aged 19-30 years Food contributes 0.5–1 L, and the metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates produces another 0.25–0.4 L. Thus, a person needs to drink approximately 2–3 L of water per day. Average urine output for adults is 1.5 L a day. Breathing, bowel movements, and sweating result in a loss of an additional liter. Twenty percent of water intake comes from food consumption, so drinking 2 L of water, along with normal diet will suffice in replenishing fluids. These assumptions are limited by the condition of the subject, including personal health and physical exercise, but are also affected by temperature and humidity.
There is a persistent myth that people should try to drink 8 cups of water per day, but there is no evidence to support that. For example people in hot places will need more water. Instead of aiming for a fixed number a person's thirst is a good guide, and there is no specific number to aim for. A good guideline is that a normal person should urinate 4 times per day, and the urine should be a light yellow color, fully clear urine is overdoing it.
The kidneys will adjust to varying levels of water intake, if someone drinks a lot of water the kidneys will produce more diluted urine, even if the person did not happen to drink a lot, and it takes time for the kidneys to a adjust to the new water intake level. This can cause someone who drinks a lot of water to become dehydrated more easily than someone who routinely drinks less. Survival classes recommend that someone who expects to be in an environment with little water (such as a desert), to not drink a lot of water, but rather to drink as little as possible for several days before the trip to accustom the kidneys to making concentrated urine. Not doing this caused the death of a man during a survival test

Indicators of Safe Drinking Water

Access to safe drinking water is indicated by the number of people using proper sanitary sources. These improved drinking water sources include household connection, public standpipe, borehole condition, protected dug well, protected spring, and rain water collection. Sources that don't encourage improved drinking water to the same extent as previously mentioned include: unprotected well, unprotected spring, rivers or ponds, vender-provided water, bottled water (consequential of limitations in quantity, not quality of water), and tanker truck water. Access to sanitary water comes hand in hand with access to improved sanitation facilities for excreta. These facilities include connection to public sewer, connection to septic system, pour-flush latrine, and ventilated improved pit latrine. Unimproved sanitation facilities are: public or shared latrine, open pit latrine, or bucket latrine.

Access to drinking water

Earth's surface consists of 70% water. Water is available almost everywhere if proper methods are used to get it. As a country’s economy becomes stronger (as its GNP per capita or PPP rise) a larger percentage of its people tend to have access to drinking water and sanitation. Access to drinking water is measured by the number of people who have a reasonable means of getting an adequate amount of water that is safe for drinking, washing, and essential household activities.
In the US, the typical single family home consumes 69.3 gallons of water per day. These figures are concerning in some parts of the country where water supplies are dangerously low due to drought, particularly in the West and the South East region of the U.S .
As of the year 2006 (and pre-existing for at least three decades), there is a substantial shortfall in availability of potable water in less developed countries, primarily arising from industrial contamination and pollution. As of the year 2000, 27 percent of the populations of lesser developed countries did not have access to safe drinking water. Implications for disease propagation are significant. Many nations have water quality regulations for water sold as drinking water, although these are often not strictly enforced outside of the developed world. The World Health Organization sets international standards for drinking water. A broad classification of drinking water safety worldwide can be found in Safe Water for International Travelers.
It reflects the health of a country’s people and the country’s capacity to collect, clean, and distribute water to consumers. According to the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) more than one billion people in low and middle-income countries lack access to safe water for drinking, personal hygiene and domestic use. These numbers represent more than 20 percent of the world’s people. In addition, close to 3 billion people did not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. (For details see data on the website of the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) on water and sanitation of WHO and UNICEF.)
While the occurrence of waterborne diseases in developed countries is generally low due to a generally good system of water treatment, distribution and monitoring, waterborne diseases are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in low- and middle-income countries, frequently called developing countries.
The access to safe drinking water to the populations in several countries is listed below.
The main reason for poor access to safe water is the inability to finance and to adequately maintain the necessary infrastructure. Overpopulation and scarcity of water resources are contributing factors.
For more information regarding United States regulation of bottled water production, see Code of Federal Regulations CFR129

United States' Bottled water classifications

Bottled water manufacturers in the United States must ensure that their products meet the FDA established standard of identity for bottled water products.. A bottled water product identified under a specific category, such as mineral water, spring water, artesian water, etc., must meet requirements established by the government or be considered misbranded.
Code of Federal Regulations, Section 21, subsection 165.110 defines identity information for categories of bottled water:
  • drinking water - The lowest common denominator of potable water categories, meeting the basic EPA/FDA standards
  • ground water - The name of water from a subsurface saturated zone that is under a pressure equal to or greater than atmospheric pressure.
  • artesian water, also known as artesian well water - The name of water from a well tapping a confined aquifer in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer. (Water that will rise above the water table if tapped) Artesian water may be collected with the assistance of external force to enhance the natural underground pressure.
    • How often is "artesian water" tested to meet these standards? The law says there is no mandatory testing, instead: "On request, plants shall demonstrate to appropriate regulatory officials that the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer."
  • mineral water - The name of water containing not less than 250 parts per million (ppm) total dissolved solids (TDS), coming from a source tapped at one or more bore holes or springs, originating from a geologically and physically protected underground water source. Mineral water shall be distinguished from other types of water by its constant level and relative proportions of minerals and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source, due account being taken of the cycles of natural fluctuations. No minerals may be added to this water.
  • purified water - The name of water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, or other suitable processes and that meets the definition of "purified water" in the United States Pharmacopeia, 23d Revision, January 1, 1995.
    • Alternatively, the water may be called "deionized water" if the water has been processed by deionization, "distilled water" if it is produced by distillation, or "reverse osmosis water" if the water has been processed by reverse osmosis.
  • sparkling water - The name of water that, after treatment and possible replacement of carbon dioxide, contains the same amount of carbon dioxide from the source that it had at emergence from the source.
  • spring water - The name of water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth.
    • Spring water shall be collected only at the spring or through a bore hole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring. There shall be a natural force causing the water to flow to the surface through a natural orifice. The location of the spring shall be identified.

Water Contaminants

globalize section Parameters for drinking water quality typically fall under two categories: chemical/physical and microbiological. Chemical/physical parameters include heavy metals, trace organics, total suspended solids (TSS), and turbidity. Microbiological parameters include Coliform bacteria, E. coli, and specific pathogenic species of bacteria (such as cholera-causing Vibrio cholerae), viruses, and protozoan parasites.
Chemical parameters tend to pose more of a chronic health risk through buildup of heavy metals although some components like nitrates/nitrites and arsenic may have a more immediate impact. Physical parameters affect the aesthetics and taste of the drinking water and may complicate the removal of microbial pathogens.
Originally, fecal contamination was determined with the presence of coliform bacteria, a convenient marker for a class of harmful fecal pathogens. The presence of fecal coliforms (like E. Coli) serves as an indication of contamination by sewage. Additional contaminants include protozoan oocysts such as Cryptosporidium sp., Giardia lambia, Legionella, and viruses (enteric). Microbial pathogenic parameters are typically of greatest concern because of their immediate health risk.


External links

potable in Arabic: مياه الشرب
potable in Czech: Pitná voda
potable in German: Trinkwasser
potable in Spanish: Agua potable
potable in Esperanto: Trinkakvo
potable in French: Eau potable
potable in Italian: Acqua potabile
potable in Hungarian: ivóvíz
potable in Dutch: Drinkwater
potable in Japanese: 飲料水
potable in Korean: 음료수
potable in Occitan (post 1500): Aiga bevedera
potable in Polish: Woda pitna
potable in Portuguese: Água potável
potable in Romanian: Apă potabilă
potable in Russian: Питьевая вода
potable in Sardinian: Aba potàbile
potable in Swedish: Dricksvatten
potable in Ukrainian: Питна вода
potable in Chinese: 饮用水
potable in Turkish: İçme suyu
potable in Contenese: 食水

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

John Barleycorn, alcohol, alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drink, aqua vitae, ardent spirits, beverage, booze, brew, drink, drinkable, frosted, frosted shake, grog, hard liquor, inebriant, intoxicant, intoxicating liquor, liquid, liquor, little brown jug, malt, pop, potation, punch bowl, rum, schnapps, shake, social lubricant, soda, soda pop, soda water, soft drink, spirits, strong drink, strong waters, the Demon Rum, the bottle, the cup, the flowing bowl, the luscious liquor, the ruddy cup, tonic, toxicant, water of life
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