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How To Get Rid of Coliform Bacteria In Well Water [ 2022 TIPS: Best water filters to remove coliform ]

how to get rid of coliform bacteria in well water


Let’s know, What coliform bacteria is? According to the Washington State Department of Health, “Coliform bacteria is one of the most frequent pollutants in drinking water systems, especially in rural water. They are the feces of humans or animals”. The Coliform standard in the US drinking water is no more than 5.0% samples total coliform-positive in a month. 

Some bacteria found in the environment are harmless, others can be pretty dangerous, and Coliform Bacteria is one of them. Total coliform bacteria (Total Coliform=Environmental Contamination) and Fecal Coliform Bacteria (Fecal Coliform+ E.Coli= Fecal contamination) are the two types of coliform bacteria found in well water.

Coliform bacteria, commonly found in well water, come in various strains, each with varying toxicity. It’s critical to eliminate all coliform bacteria from drinking water systems. The question is, how to get rid of coliform bacteria in well water? Coliform bacteria can be detrimental in various ways, causing gastrointestinal issues, urinary tract infections, and a range of other conditions. This blog will give you complete knowledge about the following topics today:

  • How To Get Rid Of Coliform Bacteria In Well Water
  • How Do Coliforms Get Into Well Water And In What Ways Is Coliform Bacteria Harmful?

What is Coliform Bacteria?

Coliform bacteria are Gram-negative, facultatively anaerobic rod shape bacteria that digest lactose quickly into acid and gas at 35.2°C within 24 or 48 hours. Some coliform bacteria (called fecal coliform bacteria) are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, whereas others are found in plant matter.  Although certain coliform bacteria can cause illness in humans, however the vast majority do not. However, any coliform bacteria in a water source indicates that animal feces have polluted the water. Other, even more, hazardous germs might be found in feces. As a result, coliform bacteria are considered indicator organisms. The presence or absence of coliform bacteria in the water might indicate the presence or absence of more severe disease-causing pathogens.

The three forms of pathogenic coliform bacteria

  • Total Coliform bacteria
  • Fecal Coliform bacteria
  • E. Coli Coliform bacteria

Total coliform bacteria can be found in soil and animal waste, whereas fecal coliforms are found in animal excrement. E. Coli is one of the most prevalent fecal coliform species. It is the most significant indicator for fecal Coliform since it is the least likely to live in the natural environment.

Health effects of Cloriform Bacteria

Through my knowledge, I will explain to you in what ways coliform bacteria is harmful. The consumption of coliform-contaminated water does not necessarily result in sickness. Humans are mostly unaffected by the majority of these fecal coliform bacteria. The most typical signs of disease-causing bacteria are gastrointestinal distress and flu-like symptoms such as fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea. Symptoms are especially likely to appear in youngsters or elderly members of the family.

Residents of specific households develop antibodies to waterborne fecal coliform bacteria found in their drinking water systems. Visitors to the residents who have not developed immunity may feel unwell after drinking the water in this instance. Because the symptoms of fecal coliforms in drinking water are similar to those of many human ailments, determine that water is the source of the problem without having the water analyzed.

Apart from the visible signs and symptoms of sickness, fecal coliform bacteria can harm human health in the following ways:

  • Can cause urinary tract infections: When bacteria like E. Coli enter the human urinary tract, it can cause infection. This type of infection can cause pelvic discomfort and make it difficult to urinate. In more extreme situations, UTIs can spread to the kidneys, necessitating medical attention and, in rare circumstances, hospitalization.
  • Can cause typhoid – The bulk of the people has been inoculated against typhoid by this year. However, if you haven’t been vaccinated against typhoid, drinking water containing fecal coliform bacteria might put you in danger of developing the disease. Typhoid may be pretty dangerous, and it almost always necessitates hospitalization. Rashes, fever, headaches, and severe stomach pains are all possible side effects.
  • Can cause gastrointestinal diseases – You may have a bacteria-induced gastrointestinal illness if you experience health consequences such as vomiting and diarrhoea after drinking from a well water system. Fortunately, medications are used to treat this illness, although it is still unpleasant to deal with.
  • Can cause food Poisoning – Fecal Coliform bacteria can also cause food poisoning, which is another manner in which they are hazardous. The bacteria E. coli is notorious for causing food poisoning. Food poisoning is a horrible illness that causes vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, exhaustion, and general disorientation. While it usually goes away on its own within a few days, in extreme situations, antibiotics are required.

Not everyone in your family will react the same way to the presence of these fecal coliforms. Compared to ordinary adults, youngsters and elders frequently endure more significant symptoms and even life-threatening health repercussions. In any case, it’s preferable not to risk consuming fecal coliforms from your water source, regardless of your age, because you never know how it may impact your health. Coliform bacteria tests can make your water safe and delicious.

How to test Water for Coliform Bacteria?

Total coliform bacteria are the most frequent coliform bacteria test. This test is widely available and reasonably priced (usually $10 to $30). Total coliform bacteria water tests are arranged through a local Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) office or a state-certified commercial water-testing laboratory. The DEP maintains an online database of approved commercial labs that are arranged by county. You can also contact your local DEP office or a Penn State Extension office to locate a certified laboratory in your area.

The volume and prevalence of coliform bacteria in wells can be affected by the time of year and meteorological conditions. When precipitation was near average, Penn State research looked at 38 wells that tested positive for coliform bacteria. A year later, during a cold, dry winter, these 38 wells were retested. Only around half of the samples still retained coliform bacteria, and the majority of them had lower amounts of bacteria than previously discovered. Because coliform bacteria like to dwell at the earth’s surface and in warm temperatures, it’s fair to assume that bacteria will be more prevalent in groundwater wells during warmer, wet weather conditions when surface water replenishes groundwater.

If you have any concerns about bacterial contamination in your well, you should consider a coliform bacteria test by a laboratory. It is instrumental if you’ve recently moved into a home with a private well and want to do well water testing to check it’s safe to use, or if you want to utilize an old well but want to make sure it’s still functional.

 The most extensive coliform bacteria test for wells is private laboratory water testing, which will tell you precisely what amounts of bacterial contamination you’re dealing with. Laboratories aren’t required to test for total coliform bacteria in wells; they may generally provide you with a broad range of pollutants discovered in your drinking water supply, as well as an assessment of your overall water quality. However, keep in mind that your coliform bacteria test results will cost you hundreds of dollars if you follow the “test for everything” strategy.

Testing Kit for Well Water

You can perform a coliform bacteria test for E.coli bacteria yourself using one of the many online single-use testing kits for wells and public water sources. Some testing kits look for E.coli and fecal coliform bacteria, while others look for various pollutants. If your ultimate aim is to find fecal coliform bacteria, ensure your test kit looks explicitly for this type of contamination.

Collect a sample of drinking water in a clean bottle or container to use a water testing kit. Dip the test strip into the water sample and keep it there for a few seconds (usually between 2 and 5). Remove the strip from the sample and set it aside for the specified period on an uncontaminated surface (usually 1 to 2 minutes). The strip will turn colour to reflect the sanitary quality of your water, i.e., the impurities in your well – and you can compare it to the color chart supplied to know what you’re up against.

The apparent benefit of a well water systems test kit is that you’ll obtain fast positive or negative findings from your sample, and test kits are often much less expensive, ranging from $20 to $50. However, while a test kit may detect the presence of fecal coliform bacteria in well water sources, it will not tell you the quantity of contamination or the varieties of bacteria present.

Coliform Bacteria In Well Water

Surface water runoff is a common way for fecal coliforms to infiltrate wells. Rainwater might wash these germs through the surrounding soil into your well if your well isn’t correctly sealed.

Below, I’ve indicated some of the possible avenues for fecal Coliforms to enter your Well water.

  • Using the well cap or the well pipe at the top of the well
  • If the grout seal isn’t strong enough, water might leak into the Well pipe.
  • Water seeps into storage tanks, well casings, pumps, and leaky pipes
  • Coliform coliforms can also be found in wells after work has been completed without appropriate cleaning.
  • If wells are in an area of groundwater prone to animal waste like sewage, septic systems, etc. 
Source: Oregon State University Ecampus

Title: Well Water Safety Module 5: Total Coliform in Well Water

According to the Washington State Department of Health, Coliform Bacteria is a waste or feces of animals or humans.

How to Get Rid of Coliform Bacteria in Well Water?

It’s not pleasant to learn that your well includes coliform bacteria. You don’t have to drink bottled water for the rest of your life, nor do you have to dig a new, coliform-proof well. Coliform bacteria must not be found in drinking water, according to the drinking water standard. Drinking water should also be free of fecal Coliform and E. coli germs.

First and foremost, you must eliminate the sources of Coliform Bacteria contamination in home well water as soon as possible before considering alternatives for removing Coliform Bacteria from water. It’s critical to understand how this dangerous chemical got into your groundwater and whether there’s any way to keep it out of your well.

To prevent fecal Coliform and iron bacteria from leaching, you may need to make minor changes and repair your Well casing or pipes. When changes aren’t possible, removing germs from your water before entering your house may be a better alternative.

There are a few possibilities if you’re searching for a basic, long-term strategy of how to get Coliform out of well water:

Continuous disinfection

Continuous disinfection is a suitable method of treating a well for Coliform. A feed system adds chlorine to the water during continuous chlorination. The chlorine may be liquid or solid. A filter is usually installed before the feed system to remove silt from the water. Chlorine kills germs in water, but it’s also eating up other contaminants like iron and organic waste. The amount of chlorine to use should be determined by the results of the tests for the presence of Coliform and other contaminants.

It is vital to remember that people should not use too much chlorine since excess after disinfection affects the water’s flavour and colour. After disinfection and before drinking, it’s better to eliminate the chlorine.

UV Light

The most efficient strategy to how to kill coliform bacteria from your drinking water is UV light purification. This water treatment method may kill bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, making the water safe to consume.

A UV light system is usually placed at the point where water enters your home. Water will have to flow through the UV treatment for Coliform in well water before it can reach any further into your property because this system is positioned at your main water pipe.

The lamp emits powerful UV light when water runs through the UV chamber.  UV light enters bacteria and modifies their DNA, rendering them incapable of reproducing or harming humans. While UV light treatment does not eliminate bacteria from drinking water, it does prevent bacterium contamination from causing disease or illness in those who drink it.


Ozonation is the perfect setup of how to get rid of coliform bacteria in well water. Ozone is injected into the water, similar to chlorination, to kill bacteria. Electricity is used to create ozone, which is a gas. The benefit of ozonation is that it can treat water for various impurities, including bacteria, iron, and manganese, and make water safe according to primary drinking water standards. The disadvantage is that it is more costly than both chlorination and UV illumination.

In recent years, ozonation has gained popularity as a treatment for water quality issues such as bacterial contamination. Ozone, like chlorine, is a powerful oxidant that kills germs, but it’s a much more dangerous gas that needs to be created on-site with electricity. The ozone is then created and put into the water, where it destroys microorganisms. Because ozonation units are substantially more expensive than chlorination or UV light systems, they are typically not recommended for disinfection. They might be beneficial when various water quality issues need to be addressed, such as disinfection and iron and manganese removal.


Let’s look at some essential upkeep of removing coliform bacteria from well water before we go into treatments. Maintenance measures such as extending a buried case above the ground and sloping the ground away from the casing are used to prevent surface water from entering the well. You might also make sure the top has a secure, hygienic well lid to keep insects and animals out. If E.coli is detected, inspect your septic system for evidence of leaks, blockages, or other malfunctions, particularly surrounding and leading to the well or spring.

Shock chlorination

A one-time or temporary contamination events, such as an intense downpour, flood, or installing a new pump or other under-surface equipment, might introduce coliform bacteria into the water system.  Providing shock chlorination to the water for a short period is an efficient method to fix Coliform in well water. Shock chlorination can disinfect a well or spring and clean water up to drinking water standards. It is essentially a one-stop coliform elimination solution. Shock chlorination is similar to chlorine, with a bit of difference. Shock chlorination requires more chlorine concentrated to chlorination.

Reverse osmosis 

It is important to thing to know, does reverse osmosis remove bacteria? Yes, because reverse osmosis uses different micron rating filters that remove various bacteria and viruses from the well water. Bacteria size range varies from 0.2 to 2 microns in diameter and from 1-10 microns in length, so The water filter with 1-micron size is preferred to use that effectively remove out bacteria from the drinking water.

Reverse osmosis water filters are best to get rid of Coliform Bacteria from the drinking water.


There are several methods of how to get rid of Coliform Bacteria in well water and to treat this situation. A UV treatment for Coliform in well water is the most cost-effective and most successful option for a household to protect their water supply from damaging microorganisms. A UV system consists of a metal cylinder containing a UV light. Water circulates through the steel chamber, exposing any microorganisms to intense levels of UV light. The microorganisms are rendered harmless by the radiation. UVMax, Sterilight, and UV Pure are some of the most popular UV systems for homes.


Some others question’s answers for our readers that might be helpful for reading.

Does reverse osmosis remove coliform bacteria?

It is frequently asked does reverse osmosis removes coliform bacteria and iron bacteria. Yes, reverse osmosis removes the majority of germs and bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella. Any coliform bacteria in drinking water is flushed down the water waste pipe with the rest of the contaminated particles. Like UV disinfecting systems, RO systems can be put at the point of entrance to your house.
Coliform water filter is now readily available at the market nowadays. The best water filter for coliform bacteria can make you safe and healthy.

How can I test for Coliform at home in drinking water?

Recently, state-of-the-art test kits have made it easy to analyze these germs at home and check your drinking water standard. These low-cost kits make it simple for anybody to watch their house well-drinking water sources for pollution by conducting regular water tests.

How much does it cost to get rid of coliform bacteria in well water?

Chlorine injection water systems may be expensive to check drinking water standards, costing $500 and $800. While these systems are expensive to purchase, they are typically inexpensive to maintain in the long term, requiring only the addition of chlorine as directed in the user manual (which should cost under $50 per year). A coliform filter is also a good choice for how to remove coliform bacteria from well water. The best water filter for coliform bacteria costs around 60-70$.

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