For the first time in many years, wells, rather than lakes, will be supplying thousands of Saint John residents with drinking water.

“The work that’s proposed for the west side all starts at the new well field,” says Saint John Water project manager Dean Price.

Last year, the city started looking for a new source of water and found lots of it right under their feet.

“In actual fact, if we had a bigger pump we could probably pump more water out of that well, but that’s as much water as the pump can pump,” says Price.

For generations, Saint John has been relying on lake water to meets its needs. However, lake water is expensive to treat and as the city embarks on a new treatment system, it went looking underground for a cheaper supply.

While the city’s west side will be less dependent on Spruce Lake water, the same can’t be said for the rest of the city, because the search for an underground replacement for Loch Lomond water was not as successful.

Resident Gerald Cochrane will use municipal water on his lawn, but he doesn’t like the taste of it. He says using well water is a good idea.

“We should have done it a long time ago, we get the resources out of the ground rather than from the lakes,” says Cochrane.

“We buy our water every week, six dollars a week, plus we pay our water bill every year, so it all adds up, so to have some good drinking water, where we wouldn’t have to buy it, would be great,” says resident Kathleen MacEachern.

The city says residents will notice a difference in both the taste and the cost.

Using well water will reduce the price tag of the new treatment system and save the city millions of dollars. Officials promise ratepayers will see benefits.

The new water treatment system will also be designed to reduce the frequency of boil orders that have plagued the city in recent years.

Construction will take about three years to complete. It is unlikely to begin before the end of next year.

With files from CTV's Mike Cameron