Your city water supplier is not required to provide you with soft water. Many municipalities reduce the amount of hardness to some degree. But according to the U.S. Geological Survey, 85 percent of American homes are still supplied with hard water. Your city is required to provide you with water test results that show water hardness; just call the number on your water bill. Compare the figure they give you to the Water Quality Association hardness classification system to see if you have hard water.

Many people that use city water choose to soften it to save money on soaps and cleaners, protect their plumbing systems and water using appliances from scale buildup, provide better water for bathing and eliminate hard water spots.