Coliform bacteria are commonly found in the digestive tract and waste of humans and different animals. The same bacteria may also be present in some soil or plants. Determining the presence of coliform bacteria in some water is used as to indicate the presence of some pathogenic bacteria. Both of these bacteria come from the same sources, but it is much easier to identify coliforms, simply because they are present in a much larger numbers. In order to simplify these tests and be practical, laboratories test the water for coliform and then conclude about the pathogenic microorganisms.
About Coliform Bacteria
There are several bacteria which may appear in water, contaminating it, including: total coliforms, fecal coliforms and Escherichia coli. Total coliforms are bacteria found in the soil, in human and animal waste and in water influenced by some surface water. Fecal coliforms are only those bacteria present in the digestive tract of warm-blooded animals (including humans). If the water test reveals presence of these bacteria, this is very certain indicator of contamination of water with some animal or human waste. Escherichia coli or just E.coli is considered to be the best indicator of fecal pollution of any water.
In general, coliform bacteria usually don’t cause health problems, but some strains of E.coli may provoke serious diseases. Luckily, these strains are very rarely found in drinking water.
If you want to know if your water is safe to drink, you need to test it for coliform bacteria. The presence of these bacteria is not easily seen by naked eye, or recognized by some smell or taste of the water. You should test your well at least once per year or even more frequently if you had some problems with bacteria in the past.
What to Do with Coliform Bacteria?
Test which has been proven positive to the presence of some coliform bacteria, especially fecal coliform or E.coli indicates the high risk of water-borne diseases for everyone using contaminated water. Because of that, you need to modify or repair your water system and boil the water before use. Don’t use this water without boiling until the well is disinfected and tested water turn to negative to coliform bacteria.
Long-term solution will be connecting to the public water system, repairing defects of the well or constructing a new well. Also, you might need to use bottled water for drinking or in order to cook any food at all.