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Water Costs More than Petrol

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Water Costs More than Petrol

Brúarfoss waterfall

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Petrol for cars is expensive and Icelandic tap water is free and plentiful—or so goes the conventional logic. But that’s not always true.

Icelandic tap water is roughly double the price of petrol or diesel, if it is bought prepackaged in bottles from the chiller cabinet at a service station, general store, or fast food stall.

The typical cost of a liter of fuel is in the region of ISK 220 (EUR 1.48/USD 1.68).

All petrol is imported to Iceland, cleaned, taxed, duties levied, and people still complain about how expensive it is even though it cost a fair bit more a couple of years ago.

Filling up a 50 liter car tank with fuel costs about ISK 11,000.

Someone hoping to quench the thirst of 50 hypothetical travelers who wish to go on a hypothetical hike with two half liter bottles of hypothetical water each (50 liters in total, just like the car), it would cost ISK 21,000.

Very few Icelanders buy bottled water—apparently preferring to refill their bottles at public taps on the forecourt, by the car wash, a service station worker told RÚV; adding that it’s the foreign tourists who buy all the water.

Locals know that tap water in Iceland is safe, without additives, and tasty.

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