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According to the USEPA, coliform bacteria are common in the environment and are generally not harmful. However, the presence of these bacteria in well water or spring water usually indicates that the water may be contaminated with germs that can cause disease.

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.

E. coli comes from human and animal wastes. During rainfalls, snow melts, or other types of precipitation, E. coli may be washed into creeks, rivers, streams, lakes, or groundwater. When these waters are used as sources of drinking water and the water is not treated or inadequately treated, E. coli may end up in drinking water. Other types of bacteria can be found in well water also, such as slime and odor producing iron and sulfur bacteria.

If you draw water from a private well, and your well tests positive for E. coli, there are several steps that you should take:

  1. Boil all water intended for consumption,
  2. Disinfect the well thoroughly with chlorine
  3. Monitor your water quality to make certain that the problem does not recur.

If the contamination is a recurring problem, try to identify the source of the problem (such as a defective well seal, or cracked casing) and fix it. .You can also investigate the feasibility of drilling a new well or install a disinfection unit, which can use chlorination, ultraviolet light, or ozone to kill bacteria and viruses.

For drinking water at point-of-use that is contaminated with bacteria distillers can provide a reliable way to disinfect water. Ceramic point-of-use filter systems, such as the Doulton Twin HIP/IDIY are also used to filter out bacteria.


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Test your water for bacteria: Test kits for bacteria

Get complete well water testing, including bacteria, metals, minerals: WaterCheck Tests.

Does your well test positive for bacteria? Click here for instructions on sanitizing a well


  • Clean Water Systems & Stores, Inc., Water Treatment Equipment,Service & Supplies, Santa Cruz, CA

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