Living with water delivered by truck

Residents in rural Prince Edward County depend on wells for their drinking water, but it is not uncommon to find wells that can only deliver a limited flow and/or which run dry in the later summer.

This can be an un-settling prospect for potential buyers coming from urban areas with municipal water, but it is an issue which County residents take in stride.

There are multiple businesses in the area which use large tank trucks to deliver municipal water to homes throughout the County.

In most cases, the water delivery truck just pumps it water down the well which serves as a storage tank. In other cases, homeowners have installed large tanks (cisterns) in their basements as was the common practice in century homes.

In fact, some homeowners have abandoned their wells altogether and rely entirely on their basement cistern which is kept fully but the water delivery service.

This is such an unaccustomed idea for most people, so I asked one such homeowner to share their experience relying on delivered water. Here is what he said in response to my request:

“I would be pleased to give these folks some idea of what it is like to get your water from the basement.

The entire process of keeping track of how much water is remaining in the cistern, ordering it, etc. is really very simple. I would compare it to keeping the barbecue supplied with propane except that you can always tell how much is left, you do not need to return an empty container, go to a retail outlet to pick it up, or fiddle around hooking up the new tank.

We (2 of us plus lots of visitors) get a refill about every two months or more. I monitor the cistern by simply looking in. When it is low, I call the supplier and they usually deliver the same day. I do not have to do anything regarding the delivery. I do not even need to be home. A refill of 2,800 gallons costs $115, tax included. The only other expenses are the charcoal filters (about $15 every 3 months) and a new element in the UV filter every year (about $90). We had the cistern cleaned this year ($250) and I expect that this should be done about every second year.

The water is municipal treated water just like the folks in town drink. It does not go stale or rancid. It does not smell. It is just water.

There are no hidden tricks or problems with the cistern. It is clean and dependable. Replenishing is easy. It can be turned off with the flick of a switch if we are going to be away and you only pay for what you use- no service charges, etc. that come with most public utilities.”