The volume of cold tap water consumed is an essential element in quantitative microbial risk assessment. This paper presents a review of tap water consumption studies. Study designs were evaluated and statistical distributions were fitted to water consumption data from The Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany and Australia. We conclude that the diary is to be preferred for collecting water consumption data. If a diary is not feasible, a 24 h recall would be the best alternative, preferably repeated at least once. From the studies evaluated, the mean daily consumption varies from 0.10 L to 1.55 L. No conclusions could be drawn regarding the effects of season, age and gender on tap water consumption. Physical activity, yearly income and perceived health status were reported to influence water consumption. Comparison of the different statistical probability distribution functions of the datasets demonstrated that the Poisson distribution performed better than the lognormal distribution as suggested by Roseberry and Burmaster. For quantitative microbiological risk assessment (QMRA) it is recommended to use country-specific consumption data and statistical distributions, if available. If no country specific data are available we recommend to use the Australian distribution data from the Melbourne diary study (Poisson, lambda=3.49 glasses/d) as a conservative estimate.