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My Well has Coliform? Should I Drink My Water?

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

What are Coliform bacteria?

Coliform Bacteria are a group of microorganisms commonly found in soil, surface water, and on plants. They are also present in the intestines of animals and humans. Total coliform bacteria are commonly found in the environment (for example, soil or plants) and are generally harmless. Fecal coliform bacteria are a sub-group of total coliform bacteria. They appear in great quantities in the intestines and feces of people and animals. The presence of these bacteria indicates that your well water is contaminated with feces or sewage, and it has the potential to cause disease. Escherichia coli (E.coli) is a sub-group of the fecal coliform group. These kinds of bacteria are found in great quantities in the intestines of people and animals. Some strains, however, can cause illness. The presence of this organism indicates fecal contamination of your well and a high risk for illness from disease-causing organisms.

How did Coliform get into my well?

Coliform bacteria that are washed into the ground by rain are usually filtered out as the water goes through the soil and into groundwater systems. However, poorly constructed, cracked or unsealed wells can provide a path for coliform bacteria to enter groundwater and to contaminate your drinking water.

Can I drink my water if it has coliform?

  1. Do not drink the water. Get bottled water, or boil the water for 1 minute before drinking or cooking with it.

  2. Disinfect your well. You may want to contact a well professional to disinfect or chlorinate your well, or contact the environmental health program at your local health department for instructions on how to do it yourself.

  3. Re-sample and re-test your well water after chlorinating it.

How do I disinfect my well?

While you can attempt to shock your well or disinfect your well yourself, the most effective type of cleaning and flushing of your well system should be handled by a professional. During the disinfection process, chemicals will be added to your well, your well head will be cleaned and the system will then be flushed. Safewell offers affordable well shocking/well disinfection services that eliminate bacteria from your system guaranteed without harming your well or pipes. We will carefully flush your system. Following the disinfection of your well, we will retest your well for bacteria and other contaminants.

To ensure your well is working correctly and you have clean drinking water, you should test your well for coliform bacteria every year.​

Source: N.C. Department of Healthand Human Services-Division of Public Health

My Well has Coliform... Should I Drink My Water
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