Coliform Bacteria Test FAQ
Coliform bacteria are present in the environment and feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans.
There are many different kinds of coliform bacteria. Most coliform bacteria are harmless. However, fecal coliform (E. coli) is a type of coliform bacteria and is a health hazard.
Coliform are not naturally found in groundwater. Their presence indicates there is a problem someplace in the water supply. Common causes include:
- Cracks and holes in the well cover
- Cracked well pipe
- Recent work on the water distribution system leading to the home
- Repairs made to the well or home’s plumbing system
- Septic system or animal waste is close to the well
- Contaminated faucet aerator or water filter
The bottle contains a special nutrient blend. When a water sample if added, the nutrients dissolve, turning the water purple/magenta. If coliform bacteria are in the water, they’ll consume the nutrients. When this happens, the water in the bottle turns bright yellow within 48 hours of starting the test.
Consult with your Board of Health or a water treatment professional. Typically, if coliform bacteria are found, a lab should perform a second test to look for E. coli or Fecal Coliform. These bacteria indicate that your water supply has come in contact with human or animal waste, which has a very high risk for transmitting disease.
The test follows EPA guidelines for sampling water for coliform testing.
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