Mains Water vs. Well Water – what are the differences?

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Having been in business for over 25 years, we have heard a lot of questions and comments about water. One question that frequently comes up is whether it is better to have well water or mains water. While most of us don’t have a choice in the matter, we still generally want to know what effect it can have on us. In this post, we’ll outline some of the differences as well as some of the treatments for both.

Chemicals added to water

Mains water is government-controlled and so we don’t decide what is added to it. Of course, the government needs to make sure water is safe to drink but also

dental-model-showing-teeth
Photo by Nhia Moua on Unsplash

don’t want to invest in drinking water filters for every household. A more cost-effective solution for the government is to add different chemicals to kill bacteria in water. This is why some of the Irish public gets a taste of chlorine (like a swimming pool) off their water. Another one of these chemicals is fluoride, which is said to reduce cavities in teeth [1]. We won’t go into the fluoride debate on its effects right now; it certainly deserves a post of its own.

Now, let’s take a look at well water. Well water does not have chemicals added to it because the government doesn’t control it. This means that water treatment is generally up to the Well owner. While it is an option to add chemicals to a well, most of our customers opt for solutions like Ultra Violet Lamps or Reverse Osmosis Units for their water purification needs.

Bacteria in water

Chemicals aren’t the only problems faced by mains-water households, however. Have you heard of boil-water notices? In Ireland, one of the causes in the past has been Cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite that causes the Cryptosporidiosis in both humans and animals [2]. There have already been outbreaks in different parts of the country, causing illness and inconvenience for households, as well as being very costly for the Irish government [3].

As mentioned before, well owners are responsible for their water treatment. While well owners know they won’t have chemicals in their water, they do have the added disadvantage of potentially having a range of bacteria. For this reason, we always recommend that well owners get a full water test to determine what is in their water before implementing any sort of water treatment unit. Just as an example, it has been estimated that up to 30% of private wells may occasionally be contaminated with E. Coli [4], a bacteria that can cause symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramping and nausea.

Hard water

Whether you’re on mains or well water, some of us can’t escape the negative effects of hard water. Of course, some areas of the country have higher levels of water hardness than others. It’s not generally our health that hard water affects, it is the effect it has on our appliances that is a problem. We have all seen the pipe-filled-with-limscale-beside-a-clean-pipebuild-up of limescale in a kettle, on your shower head, on the heating element of a broken-down washing machine or even the build-up in pipes. This is also the reason why the government doesn’t treat it is that hard water is typically good for you and they don’t want to take those beneficial minerals away from you [5]. So, what’s the solution? The best way to deal with this is to get a water softener but then add a drinking-water tap that bypasses it. This allows you to get all your beneficial minerals from hard water while still protecting your appliances.

We hope this post has been informative. If you have any questions about your mains or well water, please contact us.

 

 

[1] Irish Water – Web page – “Why is fluoride added to the public water supply in Ireland?”[2] HSPC – Web page – “Cryptosporidiosis frequently asked questions”

[3] Irish Examiner – Article – “Cryptosporidium outbreak cost €19m”

[4] EPA – Web page – “Testing and Treatment Options for your Private Well”

[5] Irish Water – Web page – “Water Hardness”

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