Today, not many homeowners get there water supply this way. Private wells and cisterns are the way to go now for residents living in rural areas who rely on getting a potable drinking water source.
Cisterns come in various forms, from concrete tanks in the ground or under a garage floor to polyethylene below ground plastic cisterns. Some cisterns are even raised or elevated above the house. Some collect the water off their roof while others may truck in water from the local municipality. Wells on the other hand are either dug or drilled, the latter being the more common. Dug wells are more susceptible to contamination as they get their water from shallow aquifers.
Wells can become contaminated with bacteria (coliform, E. coli), nitrates, herbicides, or other chemicals. As a result, it is imperative that your test to ensure water potability routinely. Locate wells safe distance from contamination sources like septic systems. Keep contaminants like garbage, manure, petroleum products and pesticides away from the well as it may eventually get into your or your neighbour’s water supply.
Regardless, wells and cisterns can not be relied upon for continuously safe drinking water, so a purification system is best. Commonly, this includes at a minimum a particle filter and UV (ultraviolet) light for killing bacteria.