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How to Get Rid of Coliform Bacteria

Updated June 02, 2017

The presence of coliform bacteria is a primary indicator of contaminated water and food. Coliform bacteria are generally found in warm-blooded animals' faeces, and as a result, they are a sign of water that is contaminated with fecal matter and possibly other organisms, viruses, parasites and bacteria that can cause infection and illness. Because coliform bacteria are found in water, they are also found in soil and foods, which are sprayed with the contaminated water. Approximately half of the world's poor are currently suffering from waterborne diseases.

Boil all water that is infected with coliform bacteria. Because the bacteria cannot survive this high temperature, they will be killed when boiled.

Chlorine bleach can be added to water to kill coliform bacteria. In a well, use one quart if the well is less than 100 feet deep, 1/2 gallon of bleach for a 100- to 200-foot well, 3 quarts of bleach for a 200- to 300-foot well and 1 gallon or more for wells that are deeper than 300 feet. These estimates are based on recommendations from the Ector County Health Department in Texas, and the amount of chlorine bleach needed may vary, particularly if the well water is highly contaminated or if the well is hand-dug. Follow the full instructions (see Resources section) on how to disinfect well water.

Use ultraviolet (UV) light to disinfect water that is contaminated with coliform bacteria. A UV light is held in a protective sleeve and all infected water is passed through the area. UV light rearranges the DNA structure of the bacteria, making it impossible to reproduce. Excel Water Technologies Inc. provides more information on how UV light kills waterborne bacteria, such as coliform bacteria (see Resources section).

Use a Lifestraw portable water purifier by Vestergaard Fransen. The Lifestraw successfully filters 98 to 99 per cent of waterborne bacteria and viruses, including coliform bacteria. Lifestraws are made for individual use, so people can filter the contaminants out of drinking water.

Things You'll Need

  • Lifestraw
  • Ultraviolet light filtration system
  • Chlorine bleach for well purification
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