Bacteria in the Water Supply
Bacteria are microscopic organisms that are found just about everywhere. Most bacteria are harmless, but certain types can cause disease, sickness or other problems. Wells used for drinking water should be tested for the presence of coliforms (bacteria) every one to two years, in addition to other water quality parameters. The good news…treatments do exist for microbial contamination, but it is important to know what is present in your water before treatment is begun.
Coliforms are not a single type of bacteria, but a grouping of bacteria that includes many strains. They are ubiquitous in nature, and many types are harmless. Therefore, it is not definitive that coliform bacteria will cause sickness. Many variables, such as the specific type of bacteria present and your own immune system's effectiveness, will determine if you will get sick. In fact, many people become immune to bacteria that is present in their own water. Guests, on the other hand, may not have developed an immunity to the water and may experience some gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea or gastroenteritis. Types of coliform bacteria include e. coli, cholera, legionella and salmonella.
How do coliforms get into the water supply? It is common to have contamination when maintenance has been performed on the water supply system. Faulty in-ground sewage disposal systems may also be the source of contamination. Coliforms from animal waste can enter directly into water supplies but can also migrate through the soil and contaminate the groundwater. This process is accelerated during spring flooding or heavy rainfall.
Public drinking water supplies are required, by law, to be free from microbial pathogens, but sometimes the water supply may become contaminated. A recent news article from the Camden, NJ Courier Post reported that elevated levels of coliform bacteria were found in water supplied to 50,000 city residents of Camden in July. The residents only just found out this month. The water supply company stated that there was “no imminent danger” and consumers “can have full confidence in the water supply.” After further tests did not reveal the presence of either fecal coliform or e. coli, it was suggested that the initial result was a false reading, possibly due to contamination during the test process. For your greater peace of mind, water filtration systems designed to filter for bacteria can be used to help ensure that you have safer drinking water.
Private water systems, while also vulnerable to contamination from bacteria, usually have no governmental oversight. If you rely on a private well, it is your responsibility to ensure the water is safe to drink. You should inspect the condition of your well regularly and test a water sample every one to two years. More frequent testing is recommended when: the well condition is poor, the well has been inundated with floodwater, the septic system has malfunctioned or has a history of bacterial contaminate, abandoned wells or feed yards are located nearby, or visitors have complained of stomach or intestinal distress.
Chlorination is the most common method for disinfecting contaminated wells, but whole-house, point-of-entry ultraviolet filtration systems are an alternative. There are also other options available for private water supply disinfection. These include ultrafiltration (water filtration systems designed to reduce bacteria), and distillation. Each of these methods has advantages and limitations, but they are all intended for use on clean, clear water. Water supplies must be sealed and protected from sources of bacterial contamination for disinfection methods to function properly.
Reducing Bacteria with Filtration Systems
eFilterWater offers a selection of home water filter systems that are effective in reducing bacteria from your drinking water. Distillation or UV water filtration is recommended. We also offer the SteriPEN Adventurer, a handheld UV water purifier, to carry with you when hiking or camping. In addition, you can test your water using the Waterworks 487197 EZ Coliform Cult - MUG Bacteria Test, in conjunction with the Handheld NVF-4 UV Light. We also have other lab test kits available. If you need more assistance finding the right home water filtration system to reduce bacteria from your home's water supply, contact one of eFilterWater's Certified Water Specialists. They will be happy to assist you!
| ||Water Distiller Systems|
Filtering Effectiveness: Good
Installation: Quick 10 min., by a Novice
Price Range: $359.99 - $1699.99
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| ||UV Water Filter Systems|
Filtering Effectiveness: Best
Installation: 1-2 hrs., by a Do-It-Yourselfer
Price Range: $74.99 - $824.00
Sources: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/natres/06703.html http://www.water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm