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When performing water system repairs or new building construction, making the choice between a private well system and tapping into public city water systems can be difficult. Homeowners, property managers and contractors must weigh not only the short-term and long-term cost differences between private wells and public water, but also the water safety, water quality and long-term maintenance costs of each. In the end, which type of system is best depends on a variety of factors. These factors vary depending on the building’s location, the quality of available water and the building’s type of use.
Water Safety Considerations
Water which comes from public water treatment systems is typically sourced from surface water, such as lakes, rivers and rainfall runoff. Because this water collects pollution and chemicals from the air and surrounding areas, it is heavily treated with chlorine and fluoride to kill any bacteria present. Well water, on the other hand, comes from deep underground aquifers and, in most cases, has been filtered naturally by seeping through thick layers of soil, sand and clay. Natural well water may, however, still contain harmful contaminants, especially wells installed nearby pharmaceutical operations or large-scale agriculture. For this reason, natural well water must be tested and treated for any contaminants or excessive mineral content.
Cost and Convenience of Private Wells and City Water
New private well installation can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 for initial drilling and system setup. The cost of well installation depends on the availability of natural aquifers, how close the well is to the building, what kind of soil or rock is being drilled through, what the water system will be used for and what treatment will be necessary. Once installed, however, well water systems drawing water from good water sources can run for as long as 10 years without requiring maintenance. In these cases, the only water costs are the cost of the minimal electricity required to run the water pump.
City water systems, on the other hand, require a minimal connection fee (typically $150-500). Once connected, monthly service fees must be paid to the city’s water treatment center. These fees vary widely depending on the region, ranging from $30 per month to $200 per month. Added up over time, city fees can equal substantially more than the initial costs of installing a private well system, making city water systems more costly in the long term.
Water Wells for New Home Construction and Existing City Houses
The best time to choose between a private well and a city system connection is before construction on a new home or business building begins. It’s easiest to survey the property for the best well system location without buildings present on the site, but this isn’t to say a new well can’t be installed for pre-existing buildings. Existing buildings which are undergoing restoration or whose residents are seeking an alternative to highly chlorinated city water can have their properties surveyed to see if a well water system is an option. If safe water is available, and if there is room for water well installation in the construction budget, it may prove the most cost effective long term solution.