What is E. Coli contamination and what are the water treatment solutions?
As a homeowner with a well, it's your responsibility to keep your water safe and clean. The EPA recommends annual testing to determine the quality of your home's water supply. If contaminants are found there are different water treatment options available that can treat your water and remove any health risks that they may cause.
One contaminant that can be present is Escherichia Coli, also known as E.Coli. There are hundreds of strains of e.coli present in nature. Most are harmless; some even live in our bodies and the bodies of animals to aid in the digestion of our food. Some can be dangerous, but natural organic processes generally break down the bacteria and render it harmless. Problems can arise if this process of decay is disrupted and active bacteria enter into your home's water supply.
Let's learn exactly what e.coli is, how it can enter your home's water supply, and the various treatment options available to keep your well safe and clean.
What is E. Coli and Where Does It Come From?
E. coli is a dangerous bacteria that can cause serious and potentially life-threatening illness in humans. It is a part of a larger group of bacteria called coliform bacteria. Most coliform bacteria are harmless and found in the intestines of ruminant animals like cattle and sheep where they play a significant role in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. The waste of these animals contains a high concentration of coliform bacteria.
The natural process of decomposition breaks down the waste and the bacteria it contains. However, when raw animal waste enters groundwater before it has a chance to decompose, the result can be high levels of e. Coli. This can cause illness when ingested.
How E. Coli Enters Your Well
As detailed above, the only source of e.coli is animal and human waste. A water source becomes contaminated when raw waste enters the water system. The two most common ways this can happen is when a well is placed too close to a septic system leaching field, or the well casing is damaged or cracked.
The second way is through surface contamination. When it rains, surface water can pick up traces of animal waste and the can seep into the well cap from the surface. This can happen even if the well cap is above grade. If the fill is not made of the correct material or has been disturbed, e. Coli can run down the outside of the casing and into the water supply.
The Health Effects of E. Coli
Some strains of e.coli produce a dangerous toxin that can cause illness in humans. Infection commonly causes severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In some people, mostly children under five and the elderly infection can cause a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome which causes red blood cells to die and can also cause kidney failure. In the US, this syndrome is the principal cause of kidney failure in children, and most cases are caused by exposure to e. Coli. Hemolytic uremic syndrome can be life-threatening.
Water Treatment Options For Eliminating E. Coli
Luckily, e.coli and most other bacteria are not very difficult to kill. There are two primary methods for remedying e. Coli contamination in a residential well. The first is chlorine treatment. Typically a dosing pump is used to inject chlorine into the drinking water lines. The chlorine's disinfecting action kills the bacteria.
The most popular approach is using a UV light water treatment system.
A UV system is a whole house water treatment system that is plumbed in line between your well and where your water enters the home. Water is passed through a chamber and is bombarded with bacteria-killing UV rays. UV systems are popular because they do not use any chemicals, are easy to maintain and are effective at killing not only e. Coli, but a range of other bacteria, viruses, and water born parasites.
If you have had your water tested and have found elevated levels of e. Coli, contact Skillings and Sons. We can help you treat your well to eliminate e.coli and can also advise you on the purchase and installation of a whole house water treatment system that can remove e coli, other bacteria, viruses, parasites and other waterborne contaminants.