Coliform Bacteria Present in Our Drinking Water


There may be a number of particles that are visibly seen in the water; but there are numerous of different kinds of bacteria or parasites that are not seen with our naked eyes.

There are already cases of deaths and diseases reported every year because of these unseen organisms freely floating in the water that we drink; though these cases may vary from different countries it does not mean that we are safe. Contaminants are everywhere and if untreated it may cause illness.


Let us not put our lives to the test living it to authority, and just believe that the water being supplied to us are indeed crystal clear and free from harmful radicals; it may be safe for a few consumption but will never be that safe for a lifetime.

There are situations that may contribute to contaminate our water such as floods and other calamities; sometimes it is because of our poor knowledge about how clean the water should be and our carelessness to our surroundings. Other factors that may also cause contaminations are factory leaks and garbage disposal to bodies of water.


As the population grows in numbers so is our health that is put on risk; pollution is always connected with population and sad to say though some of us are aware of this pathogens such as coliform bacteria we still aren’t sure of would happen if this bacteria would be on our waters and be taken into our bodies.


To have a better understanding of what is a coliform bacteria, how would it affect us, what are the kinds of test to identify the level of risk and how to prevent it; take to understand the answers to these questions and educate yourself of how harmful this bacteria is.


What Exactly is Coliform Bacteria

Coliform bacteria are bacteria that are commonly seen on digestive tract and feces of animals and humans; these microorganisms are only seen with the use of a microscope. Also found in water, plants and other soil materials, coliform bacteria are used as sanitary indicators. This type of bacteria is commonly seen on contaminated areas or mass of water that is said to be hazardous or unsafe for human consumption.


This bacteria is commonly described as a gram-negative rod-shaped and non-spore forming bacteria, coliforms are either motile or non-motile. Coliform bacteria are usually found in watery environment and a large amount in feces of animals that are warm-blooded, it can also ferment lactose.


As a Contaminant Indicator

As stated, coliform bacteria are commonly seen in feces of animals and humans; thus, the presence of it is an indication of fecal contamination and pollution. Water pollution is one of the most tackled problems now days; as mortality rate increases on places that are poor in sanitation, coliform bacteria are much likely to blame.

Disease causing organisms or known as pathogens are caused by water pollution it may either be a virus, bacteria or protozoa; these pathogens are clinically identified responsible for all the water borne diseases that we encounter.


Indicator of Coliform Bacteria in Drinking Water

There are three water coliform bacteria indicator that are commonly used; each of these three has a different risk level depending on the detected contamination and they are as follows:


Total Coliform Bacteria

Total coliform bacteria are bacteria that are commonly seen in the environment; if presence is detected in a drinking water it indicates contamination from sewage or animal wastes.

These may be due to sewage problems or leaks and animal wastes that are not properly disposed. These test are performed with a “colorimetric” test, a distinguishing color indicates the presence of a total coliform bacteria.


Fecal Coliform Bacteria

Presence of fecal coliform bacteria in a drinking water indicates a contamination caused by a recent fecal contamination. This contamination is considered as alarming demonstrating the presence of disease causing organism known as pathogens.



Though most of E.coli strains are harmless and are commonly seen in the intestines of humans and animals; some of its stains are known to cause illness or may cause food poisoning to older people or children. If E.coli is detected in drinking water it signifies a fecal contamination is present, thus portraying a greater risk of pathogenic diseases.


Is Coliform Bacteria Harmful?

Some coliform bacteria are not harmful, but there are strains of E.coli that are reported to cause diseases. Current reports of E.coli strain 0157:H7 is responsible for a recent outbreak found in chickens, cattle, pigs, and sheep. But there are rare cases of 0157:H7 contamination in drinking water.


By just physically testing the water (appearance, clarity, and smell) you will not be able to identify contamination, the test done in this particular problem will specifically identify the presence of contamination; thus, past experience of this kind is subjected for frequent testing to further monitor the presence or level of contamination.


Common Defects That Allows Water Contamination

Our water well should be properly sealed to prevent contamination, an open cap or defective cap may allow contamination of drinking water. Other cause of water contamination may also come from seepage through the well casing; holes and other defect such as cracks on our wells may also lead to water contamination; It allows water that are not filtered by the soil to penetrate and enter the well. 

Well heads that is located on below the ground is also prone to contamination especially to flooded areas; this defect allows the contaminant to freely get in the well and contaminate the water, not properly sealed casing from old wells are also prone to water contamination.


Positive - What does it mean?

If you have undergone a water analysis of your drinking water at home and shows a positive result; it means that your water supply is fecal contaminated or has contamination.


Contaminated water should be treated or subject for testing and should be labeled as dangerous if taken. Coliform bacteria are considered hazardous and known to cause illness and death if untreated; to avoid further health problems you should consider changing the water supply or switch to a filter system that would eliminate all these unwanted bacteria.

These pathogens should be detected as early as possible to avoid further health problems.

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