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Well Water vs City Water Pros & Cons Comparison

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

Most of us don’t have a choice between well water and city water delivery because it depends on where we live.

Well water, sometimes called groundwater, is often associated with rural areas and is unregulated. City water is transported and maintained for purity by the regulating or local government agencies.

Well water is free once a well is dug, and city water is either metered or charged a monthly fee.

The Difference Between Well Water and City Water

The main difference between well water and city water is that well water typically tastes better due to lack of chemicals. City water is usually chemically treated with fluoride or chlorine to remove contamination.

Well water is pure water unless filtered by an in-home filtration system or service. And it may contain sediment and naturally occurring elements like iron.

Well water relies on a well with an initial installation cost and a pump system to bring it to our taps.

City water is chemically treated for purity to a regulated standard with chlorine, fluoride, and a cocktail of other chemicals to remove contamination.

City water flows into our homes through a pipe network from a water treatment facility that consumers pay for monthly on their utility bills.

Why Is Well Water Better than City Water?

The answer to if well water is better isn’t cut and dry. Many influencing factors can affect the water quality of both sources.

The Flint, Michigan water crisis still registers on the radar as a preventable tragedy that harmed an entire community.

Contaminated well water has also killed many people in the US. Homeowners with well water must remain diligent and test their water source for pathogens and pollutants.

Why Is Well Water Better than City Water
Why Is Well Water Better than City Water?

Well water may taste and smell pure. But it needs to be tested on a regular schedule for invisible contaminants. Some locations don’t have good water, and the streams of water running below ground, known as aquifers, may be contaminated.

Understanding both well water and city water delivery methods is essential. Well water is a direct source from the ground. Outside influences may leach into the aquifer running into your well.

Examples of Well Water Contaminations:

  • Animal waste from livestock yards, silos, septic leach fields (closer than 50 feet)
  • Petroleum tanks, fertilizer storage, liquid manure (less than 100 feet from the well)
  • Manure piles (less than 250 feet from a water source)
  • Oil and gasoline drilling within aquifer bed

Examples of City Water Contaminations:

  • Naturally occurring toxins like radon, arsenic, uranium
  • Land use practices from nearby industries
  • Antiquated water lines (lead)
  • Outbreaks of Giardia, Legionella, Norovirus, Salmonella, Hepatitis A (complete list)

Do You Pay For Well Water?

No. The relative cost of well water is in the initial output to have a well dug by a professional well service company.

While crude & hand-dug wells may serve a purpose, wells with casings are a safer way to secure drinking water.

Once the cost of the well is taken care of, the only price that remains is the minimal amount of electric power required to bring it into your home. Expect to pay between $25 to $65 per foot for an average well depth of 150 feet.

A significant influence on well water productivity and quality is the land location. Some areas are brimming with quality and easily accessible groundwater sources. Other sites require a deeper dig.

Well water sources may come from artesian wells. Understanding the subtle differences between spring and artesian wells isn’t complicated.

Ground elements like permeable rock, clay, or shale naturally filter and force water into groundwater aquifers.

Wells dug into a rock to tap into the water table are also sometimes called artesian wells. But technically, they’re not, as artesian wells rely on pressure to raise water.

Do You Pay For City Water?

Yes, you pay. City water is delivered to homes from water treatment facilities through a network of underground pipes.

Regulating authorities manage city water infrastructure, maintenance, and delivery. Water costs are part of our monthly utility charges.

American consumers use 88 gallons of water daily. Factors that influence water consumption depend on where we live.

Residents in dry climates consume more water for outdoor purposes than those who reside in wetter regions.

City water feeds the water demands of residents and businesses and manages the infrastructure required to transport and store water. City water systems also have a large workforce on their payroll who ensure we have water each time we turn on the tap.

Cities can charge consumers a flat fee. Though, this is becoming less cost-effective and fails to limit and encourage water consumption.

Uniform rates charge consumers for their water usage and are metered. Some water jurisdictions rely on increasing or declining block rates. Other regions use seasonal, drought, and water budget rates.

Pros & Cons of Well Water

The pros and cons of well water are sometimes personal or stem from unfounded opinions. But there is much to consider.

  • No monthly water bill regardless of how much you use (but overuse may drain a well)
  • No chemical additives like chlorine and fluoride
  • It may taste fresher and has nutritional benefits (subject to water quality)
  • Outside climate factors like natural disasters do not influence supply
  • The initial cost of well installment
  • Water quality and testing are well owners’ responsibility
  • Requires electricity for pump (use solar or generator power)
  • It may contain naturally occurring minerals that stain the water

Pros & Cons of City Water

Like everything in life, city water has pros and cons attached to its usage.

  • Governing authority is responsible for water purity, quantity, and delivery.
  • Access for many city and suburban residents
  • Banks and mortgage companies consider city water a better option when negotiating mortgages
  • It contains chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, & others and is stored in tanks
  • Shared with thousands, and a third party manages the supply
  • Costs of water and administrative expenses are rising
  • Possible considerable scale contamination (natural disasters or equipment failure)

How to Get City Water Instead of Well

How to Get City Water Instead of Well

Getting city water instead of well water isn’t always possible. It all depends on where you live and if the region your city water stems from runs pipelines to reach your home (typically at a cost to the homeowner).

If using a city water line network isn’t an option, many rural dwellers resort to cisterns or water tanks and have water delivered to their homes.

Another option is to invest in a hauling tank and source water from city resources or friends and family.

Is City Water Cheaper Than Well?

City water is not cheaper than well water unless your well-digging costs reach unreasonable expenses. Once you dig a well, the water is free.

Aside from minor costs for the pump and or in-house water treatment systems, there are no monthly water fees.

Can You Have Both Well and City Water?

Having both well and city water may sound ideal, but it’s not always possible. You need to live close enough to the city water source to connect to the water pipe network, for starters.

City water isn’t an option for those living in rural acreages, off-grid, or on farms. Another factor that may prevent you from accessing both systems is that some water municipalities won’t allow you to hook city and well water into the same system.

Though the risk may be small, well water may pose a contamination risk for the city water supply. And in most municipalities, this system-sharing is discouraged.

Although you may be able to connect to both, consult local authorities and avoid being fined.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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