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Can I test my own well water for coliform bacteria at home?

A question we often get is:

“I’m mainly concerned with the safety of my well water. Can I test it myself for coliform bacteria?”

shutterstock_19980853According to the USEPA, coliform bacteria are common in the environment.  While coliform may or may not make you sick, the presence of these bacteria in well water or spring water indicates that the water may be contaminated with germs that can cause disease.  If coliform are present, then this indicates that your water source is being contaminated with water from the surface and therefore you can be at risk for a host of bad germs such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and other parasites and bacteria.

A properly constructed and sealed well drawing from groundwater should not test present for coliform bacteria.

E. coli, is a type of fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans. E. coli is short for Escherichia coli. The presence of E. coli in water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination. Sewage may contain many types of disease-causing organisms.

If you suspect contamination it is best to have the water tested at a state certified laboratory.  However, if you want to see if coliform is present or not, there are some excellent low-cost kits now available that can tell you if bacteria is present right at home.

We recommend the Coliform Bacteria EZ Cult 24 Hour Presence / Absence of Total Coliforms. This test is EPA Compliant. When using this simple test the media inside the bottle turns blue-green in the presence of coliform bacteria. E. coli growth is confirmed by blue fluorescence under UV light.  The UV is not included, but can be purchased separately if you also want to test for e.coli bacteria.

Read more about bacteria and wells here.

Visit USEPA site on private drinking water wells

 

MUG_coliform

UV_bacteria_light
Small UV Light Used to Determine Presence of E.Coli

 

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