Source of Bacteria in Water:
Not all types of bacteria in water are harmful: some are just naturally occurring organisms which are of no health concern since they do not cause disease. Pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria are the type of bacteria that should be treated in the case of contaminated drinking water. Pathogenic bacteria can cause typhoid, dysentery, gastroenteritis, infectious hepatitis, and cholera, among other illnesses. All water supplies should be tested for biological content prior to use and consumption. One type of bacteria, E. coli
(Escherichia Coli) is often of concern, particularly in private wells. Because E. coli is found in the intestines and fecal matter of humans and animals, its presence, along with high nitrate and chloride levels, usually indicates that waste has contaminated the supply from a septic system or sewage dumping. This intrusion can happen through a fractured well casing or broken pipes. Flooding can also cause sewage intrusion. If coliform bacteria are present, it is an indication that other disease causing bacteria may also be present. Four or fewer colonies of coliforms in 100 mL, in the absence of high nitrates and chlorides, implies that surface water is entering the water system. The most common non-pathogenic bacteria found in water is iron bacteria. Iron bacteria in water can be readily identified by the red, feathery floc which forms overnight at the bottom of a container of water contaminated with iron and iron bacteria.
Symptoms of Bacteria:
Different bacteria can cause different symptoms. Legionella can cause pneumonia. E. coli will cause bloody diarrhea and cramping. Those who are the most at risk are the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems. These people may have more severe symptoms or longer lasting symptoms, including possible liver or kidney damage.
Filtration Solutions for Bacteria:
Bacterial contaminants can be very dangerous. Private water supplies are particularly in danger. Wells can easily be contaminated by sewage or agricultural runoff. Well owners should test at least every six months for the presence of bacteria. Depending on existing water conditions, pretreatment may be necessary to eliminate sediment or certain elements such as hardness, iron, or manganese before any disinfection process can be effective. Ultraviolet (UV) Disinfection
uses natural radiation to deactivate bacteria's ability to reproduce and cause illness. The advantages of UV disinfection include: non-toxic by-products, no hazardous chemicals, minimal space and little maintenance. UV systems are produced in many sizes to accommodate any household flow rate requirements. Ceramic filters can also be a great option for filtering bacteria. Ceramic filters have small pores that allow water to pass through while rejecting the contaminant, and they do all of this without electricity. Distillation
is another option for ridding tap water of bacteria. During this process, living organisms are destroyed, making the water free from bacteria. Ultrafiltration
systems use a hollow fiber membrane to reduce bacteria. These under-sink drinking water systems are an ideal low cost alternative to reverse osmosis technology. Shock chlorination is a one time treatment option designed to kill bacteria in the well itself. This is often just a temporary solution that can be rendered ineffective through bad application.