Most people don’t have a choice about where they get their water.
You’re either connected to city water, or you’re not. If not you’ll need to get your water from a well.
But if you’re lucky enough to be connected to city water and have a private well in your yard, you’ll need to decide which one to use.
In this guide, we will evaluate the various well water vs city water pros and cons to help you make an informed choice.
Well Water vs City Water
|Well Water||City Water|
|Better and more control over water quality||Responsibility for your water quality||Responsibility of local city authority||No control over water quality|
|No monthly water bills||Possibility of groundwater contamination||Already installed in a home||Less fresh than natural sources|
|Self-sufficient and uninterrupted water supply||Reliance on an electric pump||Quality controls are in place||Can be shut off by external parties|
|Less risk of contamination during natural disasters||You may need to manage your own septic system||Easier to get mortgage||Monthly water bill can be expensive|
|Better quality of water||Well may run dry||Septic waste costs form part of the bill||Prone to large scale contamination|
Pros and Cons of Well Water
Better & more control over water quality
Because you install the pump and choose filtration or softening methods, you have full control over your water quality.
Don’t like the taste of your city water? Worried about the amount of fluoride the city adds? With a well, you have full control over what you’re drinking and bathing in.
No monthly water bills
You won’t get a monthly bill if your water is coming from your own private well. And if you install septic tanks, you won’t get a monthly sewer bill either.
Having fewer utility bills is always a positive thing.
Of course, you’ll still need to pay for regular testing and maintenance.
Self-sufficiency and an uninterrupted water supply
When you draw water from your own private well, outside factors, such as natural disasters, or issues with the city’s water system don’t affect your ability to access clean and fresh water.
Less risk of contamination during natural disasters
Natural disasters can contaminate interconnected water supplies and disrupt the city’s ability to distribute clean water to households.
Wells are less prone to such contamination because they are usually self-contained.
Better quality of water
Because well water is pumped from underground aquifers instead of surface water sources, it is usually fresher and cleaner.
Additionally, wells often provide healthy water rich in essential natural minerals .
Due to these minerals, underground aquifer water typically has a better taste too.
Responsibility for your water quality
You are responsible for getting the water tested and ensuring the quality is as per the standards recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency .
This almost certainly means installing a water softener, filtration system, or a combination of the two.
Ongoing testing should be conducted annually and you may be subject to regular inspections from the local authorities.
Possibility of groundwater contamination
Runoff from septic tanks, farms, and other chemicals may affect the quality of your water, which is why regular monitoring and testing are important.
Radiation from nuclear power plants, chemicals, and dead animals are other potential contaminants that can affect the quality of well water.
Reliance on an electric pump
You may end up without water if there is a power outage that stops your pump from operating.
You should ensure an alternative source of energy, such as solar power or a generator if you don’t want to be without water when the electricity goes out.
You may need to manage your own septic system
Septic systems are private drainage systems that are often used where city drainage systems are unavailable.
Having your own well and septic tanks can add to the overall cost since you need to manage the installation and maintenance of the septic system.
Wells may run dry
When private wells or aquifers underground run dry, it is never the city’s problem. This is especially true for wells situated in rural areas.
You will be responsible for any additional drilling, maintenance and repairs as required.
Pros and Cons of City Water
Responsibility of the local city authority
You don’t need to worry about testing and water quality.
In addition to ensuring the water is safe, the city also adds minerals and fluoride for health reasons.
Usually already installed in a home when you move in
Unless you relocate to a very rural sector, the likelihood of not having city water connected to the house is low. Many homeowners only need to ask the city to turn on the water supply to access running water.
To use well water, you will need to build the right infrastructure.
Quality controls are already in place
The city has quality controls in place to ensure that safe water reaches your home.
They will continually test the water to make sure it meets and exceeds EPA guidelines.
Easier to get a mortgage
Homeowners with city water connections usually find it easier to obtain a mortgage. This is because well water is unpredictable.
Mortgage lenders offer better rates on homes that have access to city water.
Septic waste costs are included in your bills
You won’t need to pay for installing or maintaining separate septic waste tanks. The cost of sewage is usually already included in the monthly water bill.
No control over water quality or added chemical treatment
While city water has its unique benefits, a major con is that you don’t have any control over the chemicals being added or the way the water is treated.
Less fresh than natural sources
Your water may not taste as refreshing as aquifer water because of extensive treatment and filtration processes.
It may also not taste as good as mineral-rich water from a well.
Can be cut off by external parties
The city manages the water, which means they can turn it off.
While this is a rare occurrence, you can’t do anything if the city has to unexpectedly treat the water or they cut if odd due to a bill dispute.
Your monthly water bill can be expensive
People tend to use more water during the summer. You may also have an unexpected leak or accidentally leave a faucet on. This can lead to an unexpectedly high bill.
Prone to large-scale contamination
Floods and other natural disasters can result in large-scale contamination of the water supply. It can take a long time to get the water running again after such an event because pipes and equipment have to be treated to make the water safe to use.
City Water vs Well Water: A Detailed Cost Comparison
Americans use about 82 gallons of water a day at home. This makes it crucial to understand well vs city water costs.
The average monthly water bill paid by a homeowner is $45.44 .
You still have to pay for well water indirectly. We estimate that a well will cost from $22.50 per month.
You still need to pay for upfront installation and regular maintenance costs. This is a rough estimate of what well water may cost you:
Drilling and digging costs: $30 per foot of depth
Pump cost: $900 to $2,000
Pressure tank cost: $200 to $600
Casing: $10 to $120 per foot
Sediment filter: $50 to $700
Whole house water filter system: More than $1,000
Yearly testing: ~$120
- Maintenance of pumps & filters: ~$150
If you decide to get your own septic system, you will need to pay an additional cost. However, besides the regular maintenance charges, all of the above-mentioned costs are upfront and one-time.
In the long run, well water may prove to be the more cost-effective solution with better health benefits.
Can You Have City Water & Well Water at the Same Time?
It’s possible to have both a well and be connected to city water. But in most cases, these systems need to be kept completely separate.
Combining well water with a municipal sewer
Most states don’t allow combined well and city water systems due to the risk of contamination.
A backflow device would be necessary to ensure there is no cross-contamination. And this would need to be tested so regularly that it’s not practical for most homeowners.
Using well water for agricultural uses & city water for domestic uses
It is common for people to use city water for drinking, cooking and washing but use a separate well water system for agricultural and other uses (eg. watering a lawn, growing vegetables, car washing etc.).
For many people this is the best of both worlds.
You save on water bills when using large amounts of water outside. And you also don’t need to worry about complicated filtration or treatment systems for your drinking and bathing water.
Do You Need A Whole House Water Filter or Softener for Well Water?
In the majority of cases, private well owners need both a water filter and softener combo.
Hard Well Water & Water Softeners
Well water is more likely to be hard because the water is coming from the ground,  which is likely to contain more minerals than a reservoir.
Scale on taps or a slimy feel to the water may indicate hard water. It might also make you itch. If you suspect you have hard water, get a hardness test to be sure.
Once confirmed, you can choose one of our best-rated water softeners for wells appropriate for your water’s hardness.
The water softener’s job is to primarily fix hard water. It won’t effectively remove other contaminants or heavy metals. In this case, you may also need a water softener.
Well Water & Water Filters
At the same time as you test your water for hardness, you should also test for other common well water contaminants at the same time.
Common well water contaminants include iron, manganese, sulfur, microorganisms, and excessive amounts of fluoride. 
One of the most common issues faced by well water is excessive iron. Once testing confirms the level of iron in your water, you can choose the best well filter for iron to suit your needs.
Do You Need A Whole House Water Filter or Softener for City Water?
You don’t need a water filter or softener for city water because the water is treated and tested to meet EPA health guidelines for water safety. However, you may choose to install one to improve taste, to improve your skin and hair quality, or for other personal preferences.
Water filters for city water
As mentioned before, city water is often treated with chlorine or other chemicals in order to make it safe. This can leave a bad taste to sensitive people. A water filter pitcher for drinking or a shower filter for bathing can be good solutions.
Fluoridation is considered safe, but some people believe it’s harmful to drink water with fluoride in the long term. If you want to remove fluoride, consider a distiller or a filter pitcher that’s been independently confirmed to remove fluoride effectively.
Water softeners for city water
Depending on where you live, city water can still be relatively hard. It may fall below max hardness levels set out by the EPA, but still be hard enough to cause minor issues.
Minerals from hard water can leave scale and affect the quality of the water and leave residue on pipes and fittings. It can even reduce the lifespan of appliances like washing machines.
In this case, a water softener may improve the quality of your water. You may find using one leaves your skin and hair feeling better, or that your clothes are softer after washing.
Where Should Your Clean Water Come From?
Apart from being more naturally enriched with nutrients, well water typically tastes better too.
However, it’s nowhere near as convenient and readily available as city water.
If you have the choice, city water with added filtration is probably a better option for most people. And if you do have a well too, you can use it for watering the lawn or washing the car without worrying about bills!
We hope this guide on well water vs city water pros & cons will help you make a better-informed decision.