The Importance of Testing for Bacteria in Water
Although it is quite rare, tap water in the United States can become polluted with a variety of contaminants. E Coli in water is a very serious danger, especially for children and older adults. The symptoms of E Coli are not fun, but the diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting that accompany E Coli infection are usually not deadly. However, your children and older loved ones are susceptible to a serious form of kidney failure if they come into contact with E Coli in water.
E Coli is a form of fecal coliform bacteria that is generally found in animal feces. Sometimes, this feces can make its way into public water supplies, like public pools. We like to think that our tap water in the US is completely safe; for the most part, it is! While tap water in other countries is not regulated, the situation is different in the United States.
Thankfully, tap water in the United States is heavily regulated by the EPA (read an entire list of the specific bacteria in water that are tested for here). Most of the time, we don’t have to worry about there being E Coli in water we drink. But when we’re getting our water from an alternate supply, like a well, the possibility of drinking E Coli in water becomes very real.
E Coli in Water From a Well—Bacteria in Water Come From a Variety of Sources
Finding bacteria in water is most likely to occur in well water. There are a wide range of possible causes for bacteria finding its way into well water, but the main reason is a lack of sophisticated filtration in wells. Many wells are found in rural areas, and these wells are only sanitized by local landowners. Even still, finding E Coli in water is not uncommon in these wells because of how easy they are to contaminate.
This doesn’t apply as much to newer wells as to older wells. Many newer wells are created with precast concrete or specialized casings that resist contamination. Older wells, on the other hand, were usually created with bricks or large stones. The gaps in between these bricks or stones almost guarantee the presence of bacteria in water from these wells over time.
E Coli in Water from a Well Can Come From Many Different Sources
Depending on the location of the well, E Coli in water can come from several different places. When a well is particularly old or falling apart, small animals can easily break into the well and leave behind their E Coli-contaminated feces. Flood waters or other contaminated waters can also seep into wells through these cracks. You can read more about how bacteria in water come to inhabit that water here, but realize that, no matter the source, you’re probably going to need to fix that well.
Testing for Bacteria in Water is the First Step
If you suspect that your water, whatever the source, may be contaminated, testing is the first step. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can start thinking about how to fix the water source.
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