The Difference Between Municipal Water and Well Water​

September 15, 2021

When it comes to a resource as important a water, people develop many different ways to find, gather, and purify it for use. For the vast majority of urban centers, municipal water supplies are the chosen methods for people to receive water. Receiving water from a well is also an option, provided you have a water source on your property. How do these two water sources vary? We’ll go over the difference between municipal water and well water so that you can see why you may prefer one over the other.


Perhaps the largest difference between municipal and well water is how much each is regulated. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of regulating and monitoring municipal water supplies because of the large number of people those supplies serve. People who use private well water must regulate and monitor their own wells. The EPA holds municipal water supplies to a high standard of purity and cleanliness, but well water users must uphold those standards by themselves.

Water Quality

The water quality of municipal water and well water can vary greatly based on the location and source of the water. Municipal water supplies receive treatment that ensures the water safe for widespread consumption. However, it’s also a mixture of everything that its users put back into it, which is why water treatment is so crucial. Well water doesn’t receive this treatment at all, although wells are usually isolated and therefore unlikely to be contaminated by other users.

Contamination Risks

Both types of water have a risk of contamination, albeit from different sources. Municipal water runs the risk of people contaminating it, and the many miles of piping it must go through, which could fail, pose a further risk. Well water, as we mentioned, is unlikely to be contaminated by people, but it’s highly susceptible to contamination from nearby agricultural or industrial work, as chemicals and other contaminants can seep into the ground and the well’s source of water.

Financial Burdens

In terms of finances, municipal water supplies require users to pay for their use, but users also receive the benefits of reliable water treatment and regulation. You may not need to pay for the water itself when you have a private well, but you’ll still need to pay for well maintenance, electricity to run the water pump, and any repairs that may pop up, which could leave you without water for a while.

Harris Main and Water Sewers takes our role in New York City’s municipal water system very seriously. You won’t find water main installation contractors who know more than we do anywhere in the city.

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