Well Water vs. City Water – The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on December 16, 2022 by Mattias

Are you thinking about Switching from Well Water to City Water? Or the other way around?

This guide will go through the advantages and disadvantages of well water and city water.

We will also explain more in dept what well and city water is and what you must know before deciding which one is the best for you.

Let’s dive in!

What is Well Water?

Well water is untreated groundwater that comes below the earth’s surface by drilling a hole in the ground to the aquifer. The aquifer is like an underground layer of permeable rock that contains water.

After that, a pump system must be installed so that the water can travel from underground to your home. 

It’s not hard to find a drinkable groundwater source, but it can absorb far more than just h20. Because groundwater is rainwater passed through the soil into the “underground aquifer.” 

This means there is a risk that some viruses, protozoa, and bacteria remain in the water. Water contamination can be avoided by:

  • Seal your well correctly.
  • Ensure the water has enough time to travel from the aquifer to the surface.
  • Use a filtration system to avoid any health risks and also have clean water at all times.

Well water is mostly hard water, so it can be a good idea to buy a water softener for your well, to increase the water quality.

All private well owners are recommended to do water testing for their wells at least once a year for particular contaminants and once every three years for other contaminants that can be found in the water. Because if you want safe water from your tap, it’s crucial to test it regularly.

It’s also possible to send in water samples to get them analyzed.

Read also: How Fast Does Well Water Replenish? An Easy Explanation

How Well Do You Know Your Well Water? – Common Contaminants

Dissolved salts and minerals

From rocks and sediments.

  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Calcium

These can be found and are the cause of “hard water.”

Bacteria and other pathogens

It comes from sewer systems and landfill seepage.

  • E. coli – Can cause diseases and digestive problems, like diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. 
  • Microscopic parasites (e.g., Cryptosporidium)
  • Sulfur-reducing bacteria – can make hot water smell like rotten eggs.

Agricultural Chemicals

Comes from fertilizers and pesticides. 

  • High levels of nitrate: Nitrate contamination can be a health risk for pregnant and nursing women, infants, and older people. 
  • Phosphates – Farm water runoff leads to increased algae bloom in lakes, affecting marine life negatively.  

Trace elements and heavy metals

Comes from industrial runoff and waste within urban areas.

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Iron
  • Radon
  • Boron
  • Chromium 6 

Some of these can harm pregnant women, infants, and young children.

Some can cause several development problems in the fetuses.

Heavy metals in drinking water are also known to cause cancer.

Read also: How To Fix A Frozen Well Pump

Advantages of Well Water

Well water can give you an endless supply of water, but it’s also fresher and high in healthy nutrients and healthy minerals. It also tastes much better since there aren’t any added harmful chemicals. But the cons of well water are more than that, which must be considered when comparing Well Water vs. City Water.


Even if a complete system for a well costs $3,750 to $15,300 on average, it’s still more affordable than city water in the long run. Imagine no more monthly water bills, and if you install or already have a septic system, you can skip the septic bill too.

Drilling a well costs around $5,500, or $15 to $60 per square foot.

Healthy and Green 

Well water is a natural source of water from the ground beneath us. The water can be used for irrigation and exterior faucets, which means no more water expenses. All you need is a reliable well pump that you can trust.


When natural disasters like earthquakes and floods happen, the city water can either be damaged or cut off. Even if it can affect wells, too, the risk is lower. But if you find any sediment in your well, you must investigate and fix it since it’s a sign that your well is compromised. Their long lifespan of 30-50 years is also something to consider.

More Control

Having your private water supply gives you more control over water quality.

Read also: How To Prime a Well Pump – Step By Step

Disadvantages of Well Water

It Relies On Electricity

You must have an electric water pump to get the water to your home, which means a higher electricity bill. But you are also vulnerable if the power goes out because you can’t get any fresh water to your home. A backup plan is essential to ensure that you always have access to water. Having a generator or solar power at home can be a good investment.

The Homeowner Are Responsible

When it comes to public water, the city is responsible for the quality of the water. But as a well owner, it’s your job to ensure good water quality. A well owner must:

  • Regularly tests, EPA recommends doing this early
  • Making sure that the filtration system works as it should
  • Fix the maintenance and repairs if a problem occurs
  • If your well runs dry, you must solve it

You Must Filter It

Sulfur and other dissolved minerals are common problems for well owners in the United States. This means that you must have good filtration and treatment systems at home.

The natural minerals won’t make your water non-potable, but they can cause other problems in your household. So treating the minerals with a water softener for wells made for wells is recommended.

Replacing The Pump

The pump’s lifetime is around 10 years, which means that every 10 years or so, you need to invest in a new pump. Even if there are a lot of suitable well pumps for a good price, it’s still a cost for you.

What is City Water?

City water, also known as a Municipal Water Supply, is what 90% of Americans use, according to the EPA. This water must be paid for and are easily available whenever you need it. 

Mostly, it comes from deep wells, streams, rivers, or lakes. It’s known as surface water, which goes through a treating process before it ends up in the homes connected to the city water. The water is treated with chlorine, and even if it makes it safe from bacteria, it’s still a chemical in the water. By using a water filtration system for well water, you can easily remove this.

Advantages of City Water


Being connected to public water systems is very convenient and reliable. You’ll always have access to water, except if some kind of emergency happens. If you move into a new home with city water, you can call to get it turned on vs. well water. You might need some time before it’s completely operational.

It’s Tested Regularly

The city water is regularly tested since it must follow the quality guidelines of the EPA. This means that you don’t have to worry about any harmful bacteria, and if your tap water, for some reason, is unsafe to drink, you will be notified immediately.

No Costs For Systems

Since the city water is already disinfected through their system, you don’t need to buy or maintain any system of your own.

Less Financial Risk

Mortgage lenders mostly give better rates to homeowners with city water vs. well water. If you’re looking to buy a house with a well, there’s a risk your loan might be declined because wells can have unexpected issues, which means a “risk” for the loan giver.

Disadvantages of City Water

Less Fresh

City water is less fresh than well water. City water is collected from surface water and runoff. It may have been in contact with more chemicals and pollutants than well water. Due to the extensive chemical treatment and filtration, it can taste less refreshing as well water does.

Can Be Expensive

When you’re connected to the city water, you are charged by how many gallons of water you use. The monthly bill can sometimes be expensive for a large family or garden.

Contains Chemical Disinfectants

The EPA regulates the chlorine used in city water. The current chlorine levels are 4 PPM (part per million) / 4 mg per liter. It can still have adverse health effects even when talking about low levels.

Traces Of Contaminants May Be Found

City water is treated to remove all kinds o bacteria, but you can still find small traces of different contaminants like fluoride, pesticides, and heavy metals.

No Control

You have no control over what pipes the water flows through or the disinfection technique. If you want something removed, you must do it yourself.

Comparison Chart Well Water Vs. City Water

Well WaterCity Water
Responsibility for treatmentThe owner of the wellThe City
System costYesNo
Monthly water billNoYes
May contain contaminantsYesYes
Needs electricityYesNo
Possible service disruptionsNoYes
Sensitive for natural disastersLowHigh

City Water Vs. Well Water: Which One Should You Pick?

When comparing well water vs. city water, it may be hard for you as a homeowner to pick. Choosing city water would give you less control, but you wouldn’t need to take any responsibility vs. well water. You would control your water source completely and be responsible for keeping the water fresh and clean.

In the end, it comes down to you.

Do you want to be free and independent on water? Then you should go with a well.

Or…do you want to go with the “flow” and just be connected to the standard line as most Americans are? Then go with the city water.

Read also: Why Is My Well Water Brown All Of A Sudden

Well Water Vs. City Water: RainSaucers Recommendation

We at Rainsaucers would recommend a well, because being free and in control over your water will become important in the future.

You might need to invest in a well pump and a filtration system for a well. But still, we think it’s worth it.

“Water is life, and clean water means health.”

Good luck!