Well Water vs City Water

Well Water vs City Water featured photo

Everyone needs water for drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning, and more. If you’re a homeowner, then you are probably in the middle of deciding between well water vs city water for your household’s water supply.

Well water comes underground so they’re fresh, clean, and healthy. Still, there are risks of contamination. There are no monthly bills attached to it so it’s the owner’s responsibility to maintain and test the water. City water is provided and regulated by the city. This means you will have to pay monthly bills and has less control over the supply.

There’s not one definitive answer to the debate of well water vs city. It all comes down to the homeowner’s personal preference and what they might find easy and convenient for their family.

Below, we’ll go over everything you need to know about well water and city water. We’ll also present all the benefits and drawbacks of each so you can make a sound decision.

The Two Water Supply Sources: Well Water and City Water

Water is essential in daily living. We don’t only need it to drink, but we also use water to cook, wash clothes and dishes, take a bath, clean, water plants and so much more. Not a day goes by that a household doesn’t turn on a sink to use water.

When you’re looking for a new home or thinking of doing renovations to your current home, water supply is one of the things that should be on your priority list.

There are two main ways how households get water supply: well water and city water.

Any homeowner should know the importance of knowing where their water comes from, for their and their family’s sake.

We will dive right in on these two water sources – including each one’s benefits and drawbacks.

What is Well Water?

Well water, also known as groundwater, is water that comes from a private well of a home or property. Wells are drilled to gain access to an underground aquifer, a natural water reservoir found underneath the earth’s surface.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 23 million households have private wells and rely on them for water supply.

The government or any standards or criteria do not regulate private wells. The owners are responsible for maintaining and regularly testing their water, ensuring its safety.

Pros and Cons of Well Water

To dive deeper into what well water exactly is, here are all the pros and cons of using well water for your home:

Well Water: Pros

No monthly water bills

When you get your water supply from a private well that you own, you won’t be expecting to receive monthly water bills. If you’re also using your own septic system, you won’t even get a sewer bill! But if you don’t have a septic system, that’s still one less bill you have to worry about.

Access to fresher and healthier water

Well water is fresher, cleaner, and healthier. It comes from underground so it’s high in minerals and nutrients good for the body and health.

Minerals also make well water tastes better on top of the more obvious health benefits. If you’re concerned about high mineral content, read about fluoride or iron in well water.

No harsh chemical additives

There are no chemical additives and harmful chemicals like chlorine and fluorine in well water. These are usually found in city water.

Unaffected by natural disasters

When natural disasters such as floods arise, a city’s water supply may be interrupted or cut off. This leaves residents with no access to clean water.

With well water, this risk is much, much lower. The chance of natural disasters affecting private wells is only a concern if the natural disaster in question is especially widespread.

Well Water: Cons

Initial cost

If you don’t already have a private well on your property, the initial installation cost is very pricy. Expect to spend around $3,000 to $15,000 on a complete well system and installation.

You also need to consider maintenance and testing costs and fees. Understand what all the components of a well system are.

Requires electricity

Well water has to be pumped out of the ground and into your home’s water pipe system, which requires electricity.

No electricity = no pump = no water.

You should have an alternate power supply for when the electricity goes out. Consider a generator or solar power.

Contamination risks

Well water has risks of being affected by naturally occurring contaminants. There may be natural minerals present that can affect your water supply. Additionally, there might be other contaminants and bacteria like coliform, runoff from pesticides, and more.

Aside from harmful contamination, well water might smell like rotten eggs, which is not desirable, to say the least. This is not always harmful, but learn why it could smell this way.

Owner responsibility

Speaking of contamination risks, you, as the owner, are responsible for making sure your family’s water is safe, clean, and healthy.

This includes regular maintenance and testing to see if the water is safe. A whole house water filter system will help with your water quality.

There is no governing body to intervene so all the responsibility goes to you.

What is City Water?

City water, also known as municipal water, is water provided by the city you live in straight to your home through the city’s water pipe system.

The city or municipality is responsible for collecting, treating, and distributing water. Water sources can be water reservoirs, lakes, or rivers. While surface water is the most common source, some cities also tap into wells and underground water.

Chemical treatment is at the center to disinfect water and provide homes with clean, healthy water.

According to EPA, about 90% of Americans get their water supply from public water systems.

Pros and Cons of City Water

Now here are all the benefits and drawbacks of having a public water system in your home:

City Water: Pros

Convenient and accessible

City water is widely available, convenient, and easily accessible in most places unless you live in a very rural and secluded area.

Consistent quality

The government is responsible for the quality of your water. You can expect quality and unfaltering water quality.

You won’t have to worry about when your water has last been tested so that’s one less thing to do yourself. Additionally, you can always ask your city for a report on the most recent water testing to put your mind at ease.

Mortgage lending and resale value

Mortgage lenders tend to prefer and offer better rates to homeowners with city water. Moreover, the resale value of your property will be better with city water than with well water.

City Water: Cons

Monthly water bill

City water has monthly water bills. This can accumulate over time and with the increasing price, this can be expensive.

Not so fresh water

City water has been treated with chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, and others. It’s also stored in tanks so they’re not very fresh.

Possibility of big-scale contamination

Natural disasters like floods, can cause wide-scale contamination. Because there is only one water source provided for many households, it can take a long time to solve the issue before water can be safe to use again.

Additionally, pollutants and contaminants are also at considerable risk. Because there’s only one source, a contaminant in the main source will cause issues for all the houses relying on it.

Minimal control

Homeowners don’t have real control over their water supply. It can be shut off or interrupted by the city or municipality, even without warning.

Choosing Between Well Water and City Water: What to Consider

If you find yourself in the middle of two choices – well water vs city water, consider all these essential factors to be able to make a sound decision:


Well water is free. There are no monthly water bills attached to it. What you need to worry about is maintenance and water testing costs.

But if you don’t have a well yet, drilling, installing, and buying a complete system can be very pricey too.

With city water, expect to get monthly water bills, which in today’s economy keep skyrocketing.

Responsibility and maintenance

Private well owners are responsible for the quality of their water. They’re responsible for making sure it’s clean, safe, and free from contaminants. Read about the types of covers used for wells.

City water has the peace of mind that someone else is making sure for them. This is one less thing to worry about.

Water quality and safety

Both well and city water are at risk of contaminants. Neither one is truly free from the risk.

While well water is fresher and generally safer, you are responsible for filtering out contaminants and sediments.

For city water, your provider does it for you and you won’t have to do it yourself.

Regardless, routine and regular water testing is key to ensuring quality and safety of cooking, cleaning, bathing, and drinking water.


With city water, you have very minimal control over the water supply as a homeowner. It can be turned off or interrupted without notice, especially if you have late payments. Moreover, natural disasters can interrupt your supply.

With well water, you have full control over your supply of water. Natural disasters are not much of a risk either, but wells can dry, interrupting your supply.

Well Water vs City Water: Which is the Better Choice?

There’s no clear-cut answer to which one of these two choices is better. It’s not a black-and-white picture,

While it seems like more people prefer city water to well water, the answer would still depend on each homeowner and what their household needs.

It all comes down to personal preference and which of the two would be easier and more convenient for you, as a homeowner


Water is essential in daily living. And most homeowners have two options to get their water supply: well water vs city water. A choice between the two can be confusing but that’s what we are here for.

Well water is fresh, clean, and healthy without any chemical additives. It’s free and there are no monthly bills. However, because these are private, it’s the owner’s responsibility to maintain and regularly test them. City water is provided by the city you live in. It’s widely available but with monthly water bills. This has been treated to remove contaminants and pollutants for consistent quality. Given that, it’s not a very fresh source of water.

Check out the different types of water filters you can install in your home for truly clean water, no matter the source.

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