For a long time now, wells have been used to provide water to people who may have no access to piped water. Most of these people usually live in arid or semi-arid areas where availability of water is most of the time believed to be scarce. Many people expect these water sources to provide clean and safe water ready for consumption. It is however an unfortunate case, because most of the time, there are coliform bacteria in well water.
Coliform bacteria are a group of microorganisms that are found in the environment, in the intestines of humans and animals and even in the feces of warm-blooded organisms. They are believed to be harmless to the human body but their existence in the well water signals that the water may contain other harmful bacteria such as pathogens that may infect us with dangerous infections. This assumption came to be as it is believed that coliform bacteria would be found in water only when the water has recently been contaminated with feces. Most of the time, these pathogens are not easily detected in this water and the only indication showing us that they are present is by seeing the coliform bacteria in this water.
The coliform bacteria comprise of the Total bacteria, E. coli bacteria and the fecal bacteria.
The Total bacteria are mainly found in the soil. Whenever this type of bacteria is the only type of coliform bacteria in well water, then the source of contamination can be said to be from the environment for example from nearby vegetation. Therefore, this means if there were pathogens present in the water, they would probably be coming from the same environmental area.
The E. coli bacteria are mostly found in the intestines and in feces. It is termed as harmless to humans but research has it that, at times the bacteria may carry a dangerous strain referred to as the E. coli 0157:H7 strain with it. The strain is responsible for diarrhea outbreaks and if these cases are not treated within a specified period, blood droplets may start to accompany the diarrhea.
The fecal bacteria just like the E. coli bacteria are largely situated in the intestines and feces of warm-blooded organisms. The presence of these coliform bacteria in well water is a sure sign that the water has been contaminated with feces and consuming it before treatment may cause you to have a difficult time discharging waste. The bacteria brings with it pathogens that sack most of the fluid from the human waste and therefore the stool gets to be denied the ability to flow smoothly out of the body. A condition known as constipation.
The existence of coliform bacteria in well water could be caused by the presence of a septic tank nearby. Septic tanks are used to hold human waste and later direct it towards designated locations so that it could be dumped. It sometimes happens that the pipes used to transport this waste pass through these water wells. This allows contamination of the water by this waste to take place and coliform bacteria to be placed on the water. To avoid this occurrence from ever taking place, ensure that site surveyors authorize all your construction plans before constructing the well in a given area.
Once you notice or suspect that coliform bacteria could be present in the water from your well, then make it a habit to always boil this water or disinfect it to destroy any type of bacteria that could be existing in that water and avoid any chance of being infected. As this takes place, get a properly trained cleaner to clean out your well thoroughly so that it can remain free from coliform bacteria.
Wangeci Kinyanjui is an expert on research and reporting on Health Matters for years. To get more information on coliform bacteria in well water visit her site at COLIFORM BACTERIA IN WELL WATER .