Do you live in a home with well water but would like to add a city water line? Or perhaps you have city water in your house but want to combine it with well water to reduce the water bill costs? In each situation, one question comes to mind: can you have both well water and city water in the house?
From a plumbing standpoint, you can have both well water and city water in the house. However, from a legal point of view, combining city water and well water for the same purpose may not be possible. Some municipalities may allow it if you comply with strict regulations. In most cases, though, you’ll have to choose one over the other.
Can You Have Both Well Water And City Water For The Same Purpose?
Combining well water and city water in a home is possible, but it might not be legal due to cross-contamination concerns.
To understand the risks, it is essential to understand how a combination well-city water system works.
How Do Combination Water Supply Systems Work?
Combined water systems (well water and city water) transport water from both sources into your home through the same plumbing lines. A double valve with a lever connects the main water supply lines from the well and city water to a single main pipe that then goes into your house.
When you turn the lever to open one water source, you automatically close the other. However, it can sometimes happen that both valves remain partially open, and your well water could contaminate the municipal water supply. Well water in the lines could also contaminate the city water supply in the event of a backflow.
For this reason, you must install a backflow prevention device on the lines. Even so, most municipalities won’t approve a combined installation, making you choose between well water or city water.
Is It Legal To Have Both Well Water And City Water In The House?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer. City water is heavily regulated in the USA. However, the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t regulate private wells, nor does it provide standards or criteria for individual wells.
For this reason, a combined well water and city water system will likely violate the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The easiest way to tell whether such a system is legal or not is by contacting your local building inspection department. Some cities may allow for a combined system if you install a backflow prevention device and have it tested regularly (at least twice a year).
Your local authorities may also require you to test the well water more than once a year and adopt adequate measures to prevent its contamination.
While all these steps could lead to having well water and city water in your house for the same purpose, the regular testing of your well water and backflow system could be more expensive than having city water alone.
Are There Any Alternatives?
The only alternative, if you want to have both well water and city water in your home while complying with the law, is to install separate water lines.
In this case, you could use well water for drinking, for example, and connect your appliances or water heater to the city water supply line or vice versa. However, because you will have to install two separate plumbing systems for your water lines, you’ll incur higher installation and maintenance costs.
Can You Get City Water If You Have A Well?
Do you have a private well but got tired of testing and treating the water every year? Bringing city water into your home may sound enticing. So, can you get city water if you have a well?
In a nutshell, yes, you can. To switch from well water to city water, you have to run a private main line from the main city line nearest to your home.
How Much Does It Cost To Switch From Well Water To City Water?
Switching to public water can cost you between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on where you live and whether or not you have to replace the lines. Inspections and permits generally cost between $100 and $500 each.
If you also have to connect to the city sewage, the costs could go up to $20,000, depending on local regulations and needed sewage line length.
Can You Have Well Water Outdoors And City Water Indoors?
Yes. If you have well water and plan to switch to city water, you can keep the well for agricultural and landscaping purposes.
While using well water for irrigation can reduce the city water bill costs, you should know that you must still test the well water regularly.
Irrigating your edibles with uncontaminated water is crucial; otherwise, your vegetables could absorb toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, and other volatile organic compounds that end up in your aquifer, with potential negative effects on your health upon consumption.
Some minerals in well water could also have a negative impact on your crops. For instance, excess nitrogen, magnesium, or calcium could be detrimental to some plants.
You should also know that well water could carry plant diseases that could affect your vegetables. The contamination risk is higher if you live near an industrial or agricultural field.
Well Water vs. City Water
|Particulars||Well Water||City Water|
|Quality||Low to high, inconsistent; homeowners have to test well water at least once a year. No quality standards.||High, consistent. City water has to adhere to strict standards and is tested regularly.|
|Cost||Water is free, but the well relies on electricity to work. You also have to pay for water tests and treatments, as well as general well maintenance.||More expensive than well water, but you don’t have to pay for water testing and treatments.|
|Financial risk||High. Lenders may decline a loan or mortgage if the well isn’t fully operational or for unpredictability reasons.||Low. Mortgage lenders tend to offer better rates to homeowners with city water.|
|Flavor||Generally better tasting due to minerals present in water.||Duller taste.|
|Maintenance||Yearly maintenance of the pump and well components. General plumbing and appliance maintenance if your well has hard water.||General plumbing and appliance maintenance if you live in an area with hard water.|
|Potential contaminants||Heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, microorganisms, VOCs.||Chlorine, fluorine, bacteria, viruses, some heavy metals released by old plumbing systems.|
Having both well water and city water in the house is possible in some cities, but in most cases, you will have to choose a preferred water supply. In addition to cross-contamination risks, imposed water testing and well maintenance may cost you more than using city water alone. We hope this guide has helped you decide which is the best solution for you.