What if my drinking water contains E. coli?

A: You should always have your well tested once a year!

“E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals and humans. E. coli is short for Escherichia coli. The presence of E. coli in water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination. Sewage may contain many types of disease-causing organisms.” The full fact sheet is on the web at: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ecoli.html

The fact sheet begins with a discussion of one rare strain of E. coli, strain 0157:H7, that has caused serious disease. Fortunately this strain is rarely encountered. The great majority of E. coli strains do not themselves cause disease. However, since E. coli typically grows in the gut of humans, warm-blooded mammals, and birds, and is normally excreted by the billions in their waste, and it normally dies or is eaten by other microbes within a few days or weeks of being released into the environment, then finding E. coli in your drinking water is a good indication that sewage or animal waste was recently in contact with your water. And since sewage and animal waste can carry a wide variety of other microbes, some of which do cause disease, the presence of E. coli suggests that other, more dangerous, microbes might be present.

Public water supplies are usually disinfected with chlorine, ozone, or some other process. Finding E. coli in a public water supply indicates that the disinfection process was not working, or that contact with the waste occurred after the water was treated. If your sample was from a public water supply, you should notify the water supplier. If your sample was from a private well or other source, you should take some actions to protect that source. Suggestions can be found in:
USDA Farm: http://www.uwex.edu/farmasyst/

If you suspect the water source, whether public or private, may still be contaminated, you should consider drinking bottled water, or boiling your drinking water, or treating it with iodine, bleach, or disinfection tablets as described in EPA’s fact sheet on emergency disinfection of drinking water.

What can be causing our water to have a reddish color?

A: Your water might be affected by iron, a commonly occurring constituent of drinking water.

Iron tends to add a rusty, reddish brown (or sometimes yellow) color to water, and leaves particles of the same color. If the color is more like black, it could be a combination of iron and manganese. Both of these metals can cause staining of plumbing fixtures or laundry. Iron can easily be removed with an Aquatek Pro aerator.

Where can I find information about bottled water?

Where can I find information about bottled water?

A: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and States regulate bottled water. For general information about bottled water, some sources are the International Bottled Water Association and NSF International. The The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the following information on bottled water and tap water:

Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. EPA sets standards for tap water provided by public water systems; the Food and Drug Administration sets bottled water standards based on EPA’s tap water standards. Bottled water and tap water are both safe to drink if they meet these standards, although people with severely compromised immune systems and children may have special needs. Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less or not treated at all. Bottled water costs much more than tap water on a per gallon basis. Bottled water is valuable in emergency situations (such as floods and earthquakes), and high quality bottled water may be a desirable option for people with weakened immune systems. Consumers who choose to purchase bottled water should carefully read its label to understand what they are buying, whether it is a better taste, or a certain method of treatment. For more information, download the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency booklet: Bottled Water Basics PDF (2MB PDF). (Source: http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/faq/faq.html)