Out of all of the different contaminants that can affect the quality of your tap water, E. coli is one of the most talked-about. If you ever see a news story about a “boil-water advisory” in a town, more often than not the reason for the advisory is that E. coli was found in the water supplies. E. coli can be a very dangerous contaminant, so we want to keep you informed on where it comes from and how you can protect your family from exposure to it. So today we’re going to talk about what E. coli is, how it gets into tap water and what you can do to remove it from your home’s water supplies!
What is E. coli?
E. coli is a form of coliform bacteria. It is found abundantly in the intestines of both humans and animals, and it is therefore also found in human and animal waste. When tap water is contaminated with E. coli, it is almost always because the water came into contact with sewage water or agricultural water runoff near farms with livestock.
How does E. coli get into tap water?
Well water is most often contaminated by E. coli when surface water that contains the bacteria seeps into the well. As we mentioned above, this often happens when storm runoff flows over animal waste and the runoff seeps into a nearby well. E. coli and other forms of coliform bacteria most often show up in wells that are less than 30 feet deep, because it’s easier for surface water to infiltrate shallow wells.
City water can also be contaminated with E. coli. This can happen any time that sewage water comes into contact with treated tap water that is being delivered to homes. For example, if a sewage line breaks or overflows, the water can cross-contaminate nearby water delivery lines.
What are the health effects of E. coli in tap water?
The most immediate health effects of exposure to E. coli are nausea and diarrhea. E. coli is especially dangerous to children and elderly people, because it can cause kidney failure for people in those age groups. In addition, certain forms of E. coli can cause kidney damage to anybody who consumes it, which can be deadly.
How can you protect your home’s tap water from E. coli contamination?
Since E. coli is a bacteria, an ultraviolet light water treatment system is the best solution for protecting your water from it. An ultraviolet light system is designed specifically to damage the DNA of viruses and bacteria in your water, which renders the bacteria harmless. You can install an ultraviolet light system on its own, or you can use it as a post-filter after your water goes through another filtration system.
If you know that your water already contains E. coli or has in the past, you may also need to have your well and/or plumbing system disinfected to kill off any lingering bacteria in your home’s water supply. After your water system has been disinfected, an ultraviolet light will keep your home protected in the future.
If you have any questions about E. coli in tap water, or if you’d like a water system serviced or installed in your home, contact McBride’s Water Advantage, your water softener and water filtration system dealer in Epsom, New Hampshire. We provide service all over New Hampshire, including towns like Bow Center, Northwood and Deerfield, NH.
photo credit: niaid via photopin (license)