The geology of the region means that there is a river fairly close to just about every city, town or village of Rhine Ruhr. As much as water is fundamental to everyday life, those rivers also play a defining role.
While regional statistics vary between one quarter and a third of local water originates underground with the majority obtained through seepage from major rivers. Many signs can be observed denoting water protection areas (wasserschützgebiet).
The quality of tap water in Rhine Ruhr is extremely high, considered drinking water and is controlled by both European directives and national law. Utilities take daily specimens that are tested in labs with results also checked frequently by public health departments in the region.
Whilst in many countries such as France, Spain and USA serving tap water with coffee or meals comes naturally, a waiter in Germany may appear somewhat dumbfounded when asked for a glass here. Since Germans generally drink mineral water, most of which is sparkling, ordering still water (Stilles Wasser) may result in a bottle of water, ordering tap water (Leitungswasser) is more precise.