Do You Pay a Water Bill if You Have Well Water?

If you get your household water from a private well you may be wondering if you still have to pay a water bill each month. Unlike public water utilities wells provide water independently from the municipal system. But while you avoid monthly service fees, owning a well comes with its own costs. In this article, we’ll break down what expenses you can expect with a residential well, and how they compare to paying a water bill.

The Short Answer

Homeowners with private well water do not receive a monthly water bill. Without being connected to the public water system you aren’t charged for the water you use or infrastructure maintenance fees. However you do take on all costs for installing, operating, and repairing your well system. This includes

  • Drilling and constructing the well
  • Pumps and storage equipment
  • Water testing and treatment
  • Energy to run the pump
  • System maintenance and repairs

Over time, these expenses may be comparable to or exceed what you’d pay for city water service But well owners have more control over their water and avoid utility rate hikes.

Key Costs of Having a Well

While a well eliminates your water bill, there are still significant costs involved:

Well Drilling – Drilling and constructing a new well for a single-family home typically ranges from $5,000 to $12,000 depending on depth and local conditions. This investment is necessary upfront.

Pumps: To get water to the surface, you need $300 to $1,500 submersible pumps. Additional storage tanks and pressure tanks help regulate flow.

Power – Electricity is required to operate the pump, pressure tank, and treatment systems. This can cost $200 to $500 per year.

Testing the water—Annual testing for contaminants like bacteria is required by local health codes, which adds $200 to $300 to the cost each year.

Treatment – Filtration, softening, or disinfection systems may be needed to make the water potable, costing $500 to $2,500 upfront plus maintenance.

Maintenance – Routine well maintenance like replacing pumps averages $200 to $350 annually.

Repairs – Major repairs like replacing well casing can cost thousands. Many well owners purchase repair insurance.

Property Value – Having a well adds value to your home, estimated around 4-12% of the home’s price.

Over the lifetime of the well, these costs are comparable to or may exceed purchasing city water. The tradeoff is autonomy and control over your water supply.

How Well Costs Compare to City Water

City water bills have two components – a fixed service charge and a variable rate for the volume of water used. The fixed charge covers infrastructure and operations, while the variable rate is for the actual water you consume.

A typical single family home may pay $30 to $70 per month in fixed charges, plus $5 to $10 per 1,000 gallons used. So their monthly water bill can range from $50 to $150 based on consumption.

For a home using 50,000 gallons per year, the annual cost for city water would be $600 to $1,800. By comparison, once a well is installed the annual costs for maintenance, energy, testing and treatment will total $700 to $1,500. While the ranges overlap, wells generally cost less than city water annually.

However, wells incur major upfront drilling and equipment costs of $10,000 or more. At $600 to $1,500 per year for city water, it would take 6 to 16 years to spend that much cumulatively. This makes wells more of a long-term investment.

Wells also avoid unpredictable rate increases imposed by utilities. And wells provide complete independence and control over your household water supply. But you are responsible for ensuring the water is safe and reliable.

Key Takeaways on Well Water Costs

  • Homeowners with well water avoid paying a monthly water bill.
  • But significant upfront and ongoing costs are incurred to drill, equip, operate, and maintain a well.
  • These costs may match or exceed cumulative city water bills over the long run.
  • Wells provide self-sufficiency and insulation from utility rate hikes.
  • Careful cost-benefit analysis is needed when deciding between well water and city water.

While having your own well avoids monthly water bills, it is not a free source of water. There are considerable costs involved, especially at initial installation. But for many rural homeowners, the benefits of an independent water supply make the investment in a well worthwhile.

How well water works

Well water is a private water supply most often found in rural areas that don’t have access to city water supplies. Wells can be dug/bored wells, driven wells, and drilled wells.

Wells tap into groundwater and use an electric pump to bring water into your house. Well water is free since it comes from your own property. You’ll need to pay for the electricity that runs the well pump, but costs are typically minimal. You can also use solar power, which can come in handy during a power outage, to keep your well running.

If you need a new well, however, installation can be costly, averaging between $3,500 and $16,000. Costs could even run as high as $25,000 depending on well depth. You may also need to install your own septic system, which can cost up to $10,000.[3]

With a well, your home’s tap water supply isn’t dependent on your municipal water supply. But you’ll be responsible for ensuring the quality of your drinking water since private drinking sources aren’t regulated. Sometimes this may require a filtration system for minerals and heavy metals or a water softener for hard water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 1 in 5 private wells have at least one contaminant that can affect your health.[4]

How water source affects home insurance

Homeowners insurance generally covers damage from a natural disaster to your water source — including city water lines and wells. Other types of damage to your water source typically aren’t covered, but you can add additional insurance coverage to help protect your finances.

For example, if you have city water, most insurers won’t cover sewer and water backups, but you can add this coverage to your policy. You can also purchase service line coverage to protect yourself financially if your main water line or well gets damaged.

Standard home insurance also doesn’t cover water damage related to flooding, but you can add flood insurance to your policy if you live in aflood zone.

It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that if your house suffers extensive water damage, you could be denied insurance coverage.

Should the tenant or the landlord pay the water bill?


Is water free on a well?

No water bill: You can use as much water as you’d like and never have to worry about a bill when using a private well. The only reason you’d pay is if you’re using city water for wastewater (such as showering, flushing the toilet, etc…), although you can install a septic tank to avoid these costs.

What are the downsides of well water?

Well water drawbacks Contaminants: Bacteria, lead, arsenic and other contaminants can be an issue with untreated well water. Municipal sources use chlorine and other chemicals to treat their water. Well water is straight from the ground and unprotected.

Can you run out of well water?

A well is said to have gone dry when water levels drop below a pump intake. This does not mean that a dry well will never have water in it again, as the water level may come back through time as recharge increases.

Does well water have benefits?

Well water is normally fresher, high in nutrients, and high in minerals. Because well water is coming from the aquifer underground, instead of run- off or surface water, it tends to be cleaner and fresher. Groundwater is also high in healthy nutrients and minerals that are good for the body, including children.

Do you pay a monthly water bill for well water?

Although you don’t pay a monthly water bill for well water, the costs of testing and treating the water — and system installation, maintenance and repairs expenses — can add up. However, if you purchase or live in a building that already has a well water softener installed, those costs can decrease. Generally, well water is less expensive.

How much does well water cost?

While well water means you don’t need to pay monthly water bills, it does come with an initial investment cost. The national average cost for drilling a well is $5,500 for a 150-foot well, though this will vary depending on where you live and how deep you’re planning to excavate.

Does well water have a water bill?

There’s no bill: There’s no water bill if your water comes from a private well. The water has nutrients: Well water can taste fresher and have more nutrients and minerals. You don’t have to rely on the grid: Well water means you’re not dependent on the grid if there’s a massive water problem.

Should you buy a house with well water?

When considering buying a house with well water, you should know the system’s positives and negatives. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of having a house with well water. There’s no bill: There’s no water bill if your water comes from a private well. The water has nutrients: Well water can taste fresher and have more nutrients and minerals.

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