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The following is information on coliform bacteria. It is recommended to have your water tested every 6 months for coliform bacteria
Public water systems are required to deliver safe and reliable drinking water to their customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If the water supply becomes contaminated, consumers can become seriously ill. Fortunately, public water systems take many steps to ensure that the public has safe, reliable drinking water. One of the most important steps is to regularly test the water for coliform bacteria.
If you are supplied by a well, in all probability the responsibility of maintaining the safety of this well as it applies to you and your family is yours.
What is coliform bacteria?
A note about E. coli:
E. coli outbreaks receive much media coverage. Most outbreaks have been caused by a specific strain of E. coli bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7. Boiling or treating contaminated drinking water with a disinfectant destroys much of the bacteria, including O157:H7. which is a sub-group of the fecal coliform group. Most E. coli bacteria are harmless and are found in great quantities in the intestines of people and warm-blooded animals. Some strains, however, can cause illness, disability and death. The presence of E. coli in a drinking water sample almost always indicates recent fecal contamination – meaning there is a greater risk that pathogens are present.They appear in great quantities in the intestines and feces of people and animals. The presence of fecal coliform in a drinking water sample often indicates recent fecal contamination – meaning that there is a greater risk that pathogens are present than if only total coliform bacteria is detected. Fecal contamination is not likely.
If environmental contamination can enter the system, there may also be a way for pathogens to enter the system. Therefore, it is important to find the source and resolve the problem.Coliform bacteria are organisms that are present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans. Coliform bacteria will not likely cause illness. However, their presence in drinking water indicates that disease-causing organisms (pathogens) could be in the water system and therefore should be dealt with immediately. Most pathogens that can contaminate water supplies come from the feces of humans or animals. Testing drinking water for all possible pathogens is complex, time-consuming, and expensive. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to test for “total coliform” bacteria.
There are three different groups of coliform bacteria; each has a different level of risk. Total coliform, fecal coliform, and E. coli are all indicators of drinking water quality.
The total coliform group is a large collection of different kinds of bacteria.
Fecal coliforms are types of total coliform that mostly exist in feces.
E. coli is a sub-group of fecal coliform.
When a water sample is sent to a lab, it is tested for total coliform. If total coliform is present, the sample will also be tested for fecal coliform.
What happens if coliform bacteria is indicated in my water?
When coliform bacteria are found, investigate to find out how the contamination got into the water. Your water system should be inspected to find and eliminate any possible sources of contamination. The following web site will give you some direction in dealing with this situation;
What happens if fecal coliform bacteria or E. coli are confirmed in my water?
Confirmation of fecal coliform bacteria or E. coli in a water system indicates recent fecal contamination, which may pose an immediate health risk to anyone consuming or even in contact with the water.
It is highly recommended to have a properly maintained and constructed water well. However, bacteria can occur without any warning except in the case of sickness or worse.