Dreaming, Home Buyer in Mahopac, NY

Septic vs. sewer: municipal water vs. well??? Help!!

Asked by Dreaming, Mahopac, NY Wed Oct 28, 2009

Planning a move to either mahopac or yorktown within the year from the Bronx. I am finding that I can get alot more for my money in Mahopac but most houses are well/ sewer. In Yorktown, taxes seem a bit higher on similiar sized properties and 'less' house for the same price range. Coming from the city: the thought of a septic system is foreign: any suggestions on if I should even consider homes with well/ septic or just forego all together and purchase in Westchester. my price range is 450,000- 500,000. Good schools are a must.

Help the community by answering this question:


I want to buy this house in Montgomery, Now it state that it has a septic system but it also state it has Municipal, The property also has a water soften and a well, Now what do Septic/Municipal Means.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 17, 2013
These are great questions.

There are really three questions you are asking.
1. Well versus City fresh water
2. Septic versus Sewer for waste water.
3.Towns to live in and taxes?

Let me address each briefly.

1. Well versus City/Municipal water: With a well, you spend electricity to pump the water up, and a good working well, needs little attention, but the pump could go bad, and if you lose power, you lose water. With city water, it is treated and tested, works all the time, but you pay for it. My bills are about $30 every three months. I have both wells and city water at my properties and have no concerns with either.

2. Septic versus Sewers: Septic is where you have a field of pipes, and a tank in your yard that the waste water goes into, and it is absorbed by the land. It is deep enough that you do not even know it is there. You SHOULD pump your tank on a regular basis to remove solid wastes and that keep you septic system healthy. I also avoid using bleach, for it will kill the good bacteria in your septic system. They can fail if your do not pump you tank, and the fields become clogged with paper, or other items that should not be flushed down the toilets. With Sewers, a pipe comes from the street, and your waste water is handled by a treatment plant and you pay taxes for that usage. I also have both, and prefer sewers for there is less for me to maintain. That being said, I do care for my septic systems and have no issues.

3. Towns to live in and Taxes: This is something you have to research and decide, and I think is much more important than water issues, for if you love your community, life is really enjoyable. Both towns are wonderful, and I would suggest you take some time to get to know both. I am happy to show you around Yorktown, for I live there. There are others in our office who live in Mahopac, and can show you the features of that town from a local's perspective.

Best of luck to you!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 28, 2009
I guess it depends on what you think you can save more money on. You could consider getting a water purification system. That way the bad water in the one city wouldn't be a factor anymore. You could go along with you water well idea as well. I would still consider getting water purification along with that though. Either of those ideas seem to be beneficial to me. http://www.sippelwelldrilling.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 9, 2014
My family and I are moving to Westchester County after living in Park Slope, Brooklyn for a long time. I must say that living in a home with a yard and closet space is an exciting one. Our price range was 750,000. After much looking and researching, we found our home in Somers. It is a wonderful town right outside of Yorktown. Taxes are slightly lower but the school district is rated as one of the top by NY Board of Education. 53 minutes from Croton-Harmon station to Grand Central via the Hudson line; and about 1 hr. 10 min from the Katonah-Lewisboro station via the Harlem line.
The down side of the neighborhood is that it is a well-water/septic system; a foreign concept for now. But seems that with proper care it should be okay plus water bills are much lower than sewer or city water. The best part is that the house itself is 500,000!!! The neighborhood is 'WELL" worth it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 25, 2014
My husband and I moved up to Yorktown from the Bronx about 15 years ago and we faced the very same decision! Well and Septics are not a problem at all - they just require a little more maintence! Septic tanks have to be emptied and there is a cost involved with that. As for well water, many people that have well water often install a water softner or a water purifying system so make sure you ask about this when looking at homes. In addition, sometimes in Mahopac you need to pay for Garbage removal as well where in Yorktown it is included in your taxes. Legally agents cannot comment on school districts. To help our customer find the information they need to make the right decision for themselves you can find the schoold reports on our website - http://www.nyhometeam.com. Bob and I would love to help you find your dream home. We know how exciting it is to move! Please feel free to call or email me with any questions! 914-275-5988/nyhometeam@aol.com
Web Reference: http://www.nyhometeam.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 30, 2009
I think Catherine answered the questions very well and I'd just like to add to her answer.

With todays back up generators being readily available, there is no reason to fear a loss of water due to loss of electric. Your biggest concern with a well will be; Is there enough water to supply my family even during a drought and is the water safe. The first part of that question is impossible to answer and you need to look at the history of the well to see if it has dried up before. Unfortunately, most sellers will be reluctant to tell you this. The second part is a bit easier to find out as if you are buying a house with a well...TEST THE WATER. Most people just test for a few of the common bacteria and hardness, but you can do a full panel that will test for suspected chemicals IF you know what those chemicals are.

So you might think, OK Town or City Water is better. Not so. Almost all Public Water is treated with chemicals. Chlorine and most add Fluoride to it. It is a personal choice if you would like to be drinking and showering with treated water. I must add that in blind testing, Town/City water usually ranks higher (better) than most bottled water.

The Modern Day septic systems have been around since the 1800's and its believed that the French first put it to use. You would be surprised to learn that cesspools and septic systems have actually been around since 4000 BC on the other hand Public Sewer Systems have been around since about the same time and always in areas of high human population. This is why, even today we only see Sewer Systems in areas of large concentration of people ie: Suburbs, Cities or around very sensitive bodies of water such as the NYC Public Drinking Supply Water throughout this region.

On an environmental front, Septic, when properly maintained and working, are actually much more Environmentally Friendly. No chemicals are needed to properly treat the water and return it to the earth for purification. Once every two to three years the solids are pumped out and recycled. With sewers, all the waste and water; including storm water from leaking pipes, exposed manholes that become flooded and allow storm water into the system as well as anything that is flushed down the toilets (drugs, products, household chemicals) Because of this, a tremendous amount of work is involved in treating the waste water and separating out the solids and other products sent into the system. The treatment is done with chemicals. When there is a problem with a Sewer System there is a huge Environmental Impact. Polluted Waters, Contaminated Drinking Water, Beaches Close, Massive Fish Kills.

One may ask why Sewer Systems are so sought after...Simply put, Flush and Forget. You don't need to know what happens or where that all ends up. Around hear its the Hudson River or Long Island Sound.

So there you have it. It comes down to the difference between a Red car and Blue car. It's just a matter of personal choice. As Catherine mentioned, Neighborhood, Schools and Taxes will play a much bigger roll in your decision.
Web Reference: http://www.slpnyct.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 28, 2009
Hi Dreaming,
I agree with you, good schools are a must! As for the well and septic, don't let that scare you. Many people in the area have them, and they work fine. You need to do your homework, and working with a good buyers agent will help you. The taxes may be higher with town services, but then you do not have any cost for the maint. as with the private well and septic. So I would say, find the house first.
Work with a good buyers agent-if you don't have one call me!
Then decide on the area, the neighborhood you like, with the schools you want. If the home of your dreams happen to have well and septic have them checked out and take it from there.
I'm here to help if you need it. I think you'll love the area-I do!
All the best,
Kathleen Cruz
Associate Broker
Coldwell Banker-Yorktown
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 28, 2009
I am not a NY agent so I am not familiar with your particular area but there should be no reason to be fearful of owning a house that is well/septic. During the inspection process those are two systems that are looked at very carefully and any problems that are there will be disclosed to you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 28, 2009
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