Well Water vs City Water: Which Is Better and Safer?

well water vs city water

Well water vs City water supply is a common debate. Both types of waters have their own perks but which one is better? To answer this question, I will be exploring the differences between these two water sources like cost, cleanliness, abundance, etc. Let’s head towards the details!

Quick Answer

To answer quickly, the main distinction between city and well water is the source. This leads to a difference in the quality of water you receive from each supply.

  • Well water: It comes from groundwater accessed through personal wells. Since it comes from deep underground, it has rich mineral content like Calcium, Magnesium, etc. Also, the water from the well is often hard in nature.
  • City water: A centralized utility agency is responsible for the city’s water supply. The agency can source water from many different places such as streams, lakes, or even underground. It is free from contaminants and lacks an abundance of minerals.

However, there is still so much to learn about these water supply systems. Continue reading to learn about other differences such as water quality, and pros and cons. Let’s carry on!

Comparison Chart: Well Water vs City Water

Now let’s move on and take a quick look at this comparison table. It outlines all the differences as well as any similarities.


Well Water

City Water



Underground, streams, lakes, etc.


Only from wells

From water company

Water quality and contaminants:

More contaminants and usually hard water

Less contaminants and neutral water





Personal filtration system

Treated by water company


Not tested


After going through the table, let’s discuss the positives and negatives of both water supply systems.

Well Water Pros and Cons

Listed below are some of the most important perks and downsides of well water. Let’s go through them:

Well Water Pros
  • A private water supply eliminates a monthly water bill.
  • It is free from harsh chemicals like fluoride which can cause fatigue and dental issues.
  • Groundwater naturally contains minerals like sodium and potassium which help in maintaining blood and fluid volume.
  • Well water is a more reliable option as it is available even during the municipal water supply is down.
Well Water Cons
  • You need a pump system for water flow which is inconvenient during a power outage.
  • The quality of well water can be compromised via runoff from nuclear power plants or septic tanks.

City Water Pros and Cons

Now let’s move on to city water. Here are some of the most important pros and cons:

City Water Pros
  • City water is consistent in quality according to the EPA guidelines, including pH levels of 6.5-8.5.
  • It is easily accessible to most people with the help of local government.
  • There are fewer water-borne diseases due to effective water disinfection through chlorination.
  • There is no need to worry about maintenance costs as it is handled by the local municipality.
City Water Cons
  • City water has a stale taste due to extensive filtration.
  • It is an expensive option because consumers have to pay monthly water bills.

Well Water vs City Water: 6-Parameter Detailed Comparison

Now that we have learned about the various advantages and disadvantages of each water system, let’s move on and compare them directly to find a winner:

1. Water Supply and Availability

City water is widely available in all regions except least developed rural areas. The most important highlight is that you don’t need to own a property to get city water.

Water Supply and Availability

In contrast, you should own a land for well water. It comes through an underground aquifer and is available in rural areas. However, the availability is limited when it comes to urban areas.

Winner: City Water takes the lead in the first category due to its widespread availability.

2. Water Quality and Contaminants

The city water has a consistent quality throughout due to rigorous filtration. So it is safe to drink. However, if the plumbing infrastructure is old, it can result in the development of lead in the water which can cause damage to soft tissues.

Water Quality and Contaminants

Talking about the well water, it has a good taste due to addition of the minerals. However, manual testing is required to ensure the water is safe to drink. It is because of the contaminant risk due to the presence of different bacteria and nitrates in the soil that can cause stomach problems.

Winner: The city water stands tall in this category too because it’s mostly free from contaminants and is safe to drink.

3. Minerals and Elements

Well water and city water both contain minerals. Well water, however, has a higher abundance of them since the surface water absorbs the minerals as it moves through the ground. City water on the other hand has chlorine and fluorine added to it to remove most of these minerals and contaminants.

Minerals and Elements

Let’s check out the table for more details:


Well water

City water



Less abundant



Less abundant



Less abundant



Less abundant



Less abundant







Winner: Well water takes the crown in this category as it is rich in minerals.

4. Cost-Effectiveness: Your Monthly Water Bills

Water from a private well requires no additional cost after the original cost of construction, which is around $5000. This is the initial cost and there are no monthly bills when using well water, and it only costs $3 a month to extract water from the well.

Cost-Effectiveness: Your Monthly Water Bills

In contrast, municipal water users normally incur water bill expenses once every month which are around $55/month. At first glance, it seems as the more cost-effective method. But, when you look at the long-term usage, the monthly bills add up quite drastically as you are paying more than $600 annually.

Winner: Well water is a victor here too due to its long-term cost-effectiveness.

5. Treatment

As per EPA, the well water may contain different contaminants like microorganisms, fluoride, organic chemicals, and heavy metals and it is not filtered. So, you will need to get it tested and treat it with either water softeners or filters.


On the other hand, city water is treated with chemicals like chlorine to eliminate disease-causing microorganisms. But for further assurance, you can use a water filtration system to get better quality of drinking water.

Winner: City water gets ahead of the competition because of better water treatment.

6. Testing

No governing or regulatory agency requires testing of well water for pollutants. Wells should be checked annually by their owners.


City water, on the other hand, undergoes frequent testing by government personnel to ensure compliance with federal drinking water laws by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Winner: City water wins the last round as it is more thoroughly tested.

Effective Water Solutions

There are some effective water solutions that can help to overcome any disadvantages you may face when using either well or city water. Keep reading on to learn about them.

City Water Solutions

Worries about getting contaminated water are often addressed by multiple steps of treatment. Let’s learn about them:

City Water Solutions
  • Coagulation: Chemicals with positive charges like iron or aluminum neutralize the negative charge of dirt and other dissolved particles. Coagulation allows particles in the water to bind with one another, thereby forming slightly larger complexes.
  • Flocculation: Following coagulation, the water is gently mixed to allow the particle complexes to become even larger.
  • Sedimentation: As flocculation occurs, larger particles (called ‘flocs’) form and eventually settle at the bottom, making them easier to separate from the water. The sedimentation step separates solids and liquids in this manner.
  • Filtration: With most solids separated from the water through sedimentation, water filters further separate smaller solids. Different materials (e.g., gravel, sand, charcoal, etc.) of various pore sizes filter the water from further unwanted particles.
  • Disinfection: A chemical treatment disinfects the water to kill the remaining germs. By killing the remaining parasites, bacteria, or viruses, the water that the city provides is safe to drink.

Well Water Solutions

Here are some helpful tips on how to keep your well water safe for everyone:

Well Water Solutions
  • Water filtration: Since a homeowner with a private well is responsible for the safety of their drinking water, there are filtration systems that are available to them. For example, a whole-house water filter like Culligan is typically used to prevent common issues with well water, such as rust from excessive iron.
  • An abundance of minerals: Another problem with well water is its excessive mineral content. Too much minerals in the water leads to a variety of issues in taste, odor, cloudiness, and such. These issues specifically stem depending on which mineral dominates the water composition. A water softener is often used to treat well water to avoid mineral buildup in the first place.

Take a look at this helpful video so you can better understand how this process works.

Which One is for You?

Ultimately, the better water source for you is the one that addresses your priorities. To make it easier for you, here are some reasons why you should choose well water:

  • Costs less: It is more cost effective as you will not have to pay monthly bills to the water company.
  • Richer mineral content: Well water also has a richer mineral content. Some of these minerals, like potassium and magnesium, are very important for normal body functions.
  • Better protection against natural disasters: In case your area is hit by a natural disaster, there are more chances that your well water will be safe compared to its competition.

In contrast, city water is an option for you due to the following:

  • Higher purity: It is much cleaner since the city supply has a strict treatment process to ensure its purity.
  • Easily available: City water is widely available as compared to limited well water.
  • No setup required: You won’t have to do any setup to get city water at your new home. In many cases, households may get flowing water by simply requesting the local municipal to turn on the water supply.


How do you tell if you have well or city water?

You can tell if you have well or city water if you have to pump water regularly from your well you have well water. While if you have to pay the utility company every month then you have city water.

Is well water cheaper than city water?

Yes, well water is cheaper than city water because you don’t have to pay a monthly bill for it which is around $55 a month. Whereas the initial cost of the well water including all the costs goes up to $5000 which is more beneficial in the long run. It only costs $3 a month in terms of using electricity to power the pump.

Is one water type safer/healthier than the other?

City water is safer than well water because it is regulated by the EPA as well as the federal government of the United States while well water is not.

Can you have both city water and well water?

Yes, you can have both city water and well water if you can divide their usage. You can use city water for indoor purposes, such as drinking, and well water for outdoor purposes, such as gardening.

Can you switch to city water from a private well or vice versa?

Yes, you can switch to city water from a private well or vice versa if you have both options of water available to you. However, people need to have private property to build a well. So, the city water is an easy option.


Summing up well water vs city water, choosing between the two depends on several factors. Well water is cheaper in the long run and is abundant in natural minerals, however, it has to be tested regularly for cleanliness. On the other hand, city water has a standard maintained by the water company and is readily available, but is also very costly.

Furthermore, there are a few helpful tips for maintaining a supply of good clean water. Water filtration for well water can be very useful to remove minerals that cause issues such as rusting due to too much iron. When it comes to city water, the water company has a detailed treatment system that filters the water to ensure its purity.

Living in an urban area, my personal choice would be using city water as it is more convenient and I do not have access to well water. Hopefully, I helped you decide which water supply to choose and what to do to maintain water quality.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has a degree in journalism and has worked as a freelance writer and author for many years. She is passionate about clean drinking water and has written many articles on this subject. Amy enjoys hiking and water skiing with her husband and is grateful to have the opportunity to help others learn more about the importance of clean drinking water.

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