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What are bacteria?

Bacteria is a class of single cell microorganisms that are found in almost every habitat on earth. Many bacteria are harmless to humans, others are even beneficial. But some strains of bacteria are pathogenic bacteria and cause infectious diseases.

How does bacteria get into my drinking water?

Microbial or bacterial contamination remains the most common type of water contamination. Bacteria of many kinds occur in both soil and surface water. Bacterial numbers in soil can approach 100 million per gram of soil. While ground water generally contains bacteria, it should not contain any fecal coliform. When fecal coliforms are found, it suggests surface water or some waste source has directly entered the water supply. Since surface water receives frequent inputs from many sources, fecal coliforms are common and indicate recent contamination.

What are the health effects of bacteria?

The presence of coliform bacteria signals the possibility of disease-causing bacteria or virus in the water. Certain fecal coliform bacteria are good indicators of pathogenic microbes since they can be identified and measured much easier than more harmful pathogens. Coliform bacteria cannot be detected by direct sight, smell or taste. Private water supplies should be tested for coliform bacteria annually.

What is the Arsenic Drinking Water Standard?

When water supplies contain coliform bacteria in levels greater than one per 100 ml of water, the water may also contain pathogens that cause acute intestinal infections. While generally considered to be a discomfort to health, these infections can prove fatal for infants, the elderly and those who are ill. Water-related disease outbreaks tend to occur in the summer. Although rarely encountered today, typhoid, hepatitis and cholera, can spread through water supplies.