How to Get Rid of Coliform Bacteria in Well Water: 5 Steps

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Coliforms are naturally occurring bacteria found in soil, air, and water. They are harmless unless ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.

In most cases, coliforms aren’t harmful to humans. However, if you drink contaminated water, you may get sick. This is why it’s important to test your drinking water before using it.

In this article, I’ll explain how to test your well water for coliforms and how to get rid of coliform bacteria in well water.

how to get rid of coliform bacteria in well water

What is Coliform Bacteria?

Coliform bacteria are found everywhere in nature. Some of them are harmless, but others cause illness. One of the most common types of coliform bacteria is called total coliform. These bacteria live in soil and animal wastes and are usually harmless. However, there are three types of harmful ones: total coliform, fecal coliform, and E. coli coliform.

Total coliform lives in soil, animal waste, and sewage. They are not harmful unless they enter your drinking water supply. Fecal coliform is found in the feces of animals, including humans.

They are also harmless unless they enter your drinking supply. E. coli coliform is the most common form of coliform bacteria, but they are rarely found in the natural environment. They are only harmful if they enter your drinking water.

You may notice that coliform bacteria are sometimes referred to as “fecal coliform” instead of “E.coli coliform.” While the two terms mean the same thing, the former term is used more commonly.

How Do Coliforms Get into Well Water?

There are several ways that coliform bacteria can enter your well. One of the most common ways is through groundwater. Groundwater enters wells through cracks and holes in the ground. You may not notice any problems until you start experiencing health issues.

Another way that coliform bacteria can get into your well is through surface water run-off. Surface water runs off from landfills, farms, and storm drains. Run-off carries coliform bacteria into your well.

Poor construction is another cause of coliform bacteria entering your well. Poorly constructed wells can leak, allowing coliform bacteria to enter your well.

Leaking septic tanks are another source of coliform bacteria entering your well. A leaking septic tank allows coliform bacteria to enter your well.

You should test your well every year to make sure that coliform bacteria aren’t present. Testing your well is simple and inexpensive.

How to Test for Coliform Bacteria?

To determine whether or not your well water is contaminated with coliform bacteria, you can purchase a kit online or at your local hardware store. The kit comes with a jar, lid, and instructions.

Fill the jar with tap water and let it sit overnight. Then, after 48 hours, remove the lid and look inside the jar. If the water in your jar turns yellow, the water is positive for coliforms. If it remains purple instead, the water is free of coliforms. you can also check private laboratory testing.

How to Get Rid of Coliform Bacteria in Well Water?

There are many ways to remove coliform bacteria from well water. The best method for removing coliform bacteria depends on the type of well water. here are some tips to get rid of coliform bacteria in well water.

1. Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet light is a great way to kill bacteria in water. UV light kills microorganisms like coliforms, E. coli, and salmonella. These organisms cause illness in humans and animals.

Ultraviolet light works best when applied to large volumes of water. A typical ultraviolet lamp produces a wavelength of 254 nanometers. To disinfect small amounts of water, you can use a UV sterilizer.

2. Chlorination

Chlorination is a chemical process that kills bacteria in water. It works by combining chlorine gas with oxygen in order to form hypochlorous acid. Hypochlorous acid is a powerful oxidizing agent that destroys microorganisms such as coliforms, E. coli, and salmonella.

Chlorine is added to drinking water to prevent illness caused by these organisms. However, chlorinated water may contain harmful chemicals called disinfection byproducts. These include trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, and halonitromethane.

Some of these compounds are carcinogenic. Other disinfection byproducts cause skin rashes, eye irritation, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and respiratory problems.

3. Ozonation and Boiling

Ozonation and boiling are two methods used to kill coliform bacteria in drinking water. Both methods involve exposing water to ozone gas and heat. Ozone is created by passing oxygen molecules through electricity.

These molecules attach themselves to contaminants like coliform bacteria, causing them to break down. Once broken down, these contaminants are removed from the water. Boiling involves heating water until it reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, any microorganisms present are killed.

4. Continuous Disinfection

Continuous disinfection works by killing bacteria that may cause illness. Most water systems are designed to filter out large particles like sand and silt, but smaller organisms like viruses and bacteria can pass right through these filters.

To prevent contamination, continuous disinfection uses chemicals to kill any germs that enter the system. These chemicals are added continuously throughout the year, ensuring that the water stays safe.

5. System Maintenance

You should never ignore basic maintenance procedures when it comes to your well. These include keeping the top of the well capped off and preventing surface water from getting inside.

Make sure that your well is properly sealed off and that there are no cracks or holes where insects and animals might enter. Also, if your well test shows the presence of E. coli, check your septic tank for any signs of leakage, blockage, or any other malfunctions.


How to Identify Coliform Bacteria?

There are many different ways to identify coliform bacteria, but the easiest method is to take a sample of the water and add it to a plate containing a blue dye. If the blue color turns green, then you know that the sample contains coliform bacteria.

Is It Common to Have Coliform in Well Water?

Coliform is commonly found in drinking water sources like lakes, rivers, streams, and wells. However, coliform isn’t harmful by itself; it only becomes dangerous when it enters our bodies.

Will Reverse Osmosis Remove Coliform Bacteria?

Reverse osmosis is a popular method of purifying drinking water. However, it doesn’t remove coliform bacteria. To ensure that your drinking water is safe, you should always test it for coliform bacteria.


In conclusion, coliform bacteria are found in almost all types of water. They’re usually harmless, but sometimes they can cause illness. Fortunately, there are several easy steps you can take to keep your drinking water safe from these harmful organisms.

First, you should boil your well water for at least five minutes before using it. This kills off the coliforms and prevents them from causing problems later on.

Next, you should use bottled water whenever possible. Bottled water doesn’t contain coliforms, which means you won’t have to worry about them contaminating your home’s supply.

Finally, you should regularly check your local water quality reports to ensure that your water is free of coliforms.

Joanna G. Lackey

Hi, I'm Joanna, a writer freelance writer who specializes in topics about health and nutrition. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and three children. I'm a mom to two dogs and a cat. I love reading, writing, and taking photos.