What are total coliform bacteria?

Total coliform bacteria are a collection of microorganisms that live in large numbers in the intestines of humans and animals, as well as in most soils and surface water. A sub-group of these microorganisms is the fecal coliform bacteria, the most common member being E coli. These bacteria occur naturally in lakes and streams, but if detected in drinking water indicate that the water is contaminated with human or animal waste and therefore may pose a health risk to people who drink it. 

The water treatment process removes these bacteria from the water, but events such as a water main break or a loss of pressure in the water distribution system may allow these bacteria to enter water lines through cracks in pipes or back-siphoning from a residential plumbing system. Boiling water vigorously for three minutes will kill these bacteria and make water safe to drink.

Show All Answers

1. Do I still need to boil my water if I have a filter system on my faucet or refrigerator?
2. How long must a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory or Boil Water Notice be in effect?
3. How will I be notified of a precautionary boil water advisory or boil water notice?
4. How will I know when the precautionary advisory or notice has been lifted?
5. Is the water safe for washing dishes, laundry, and bathing?
6. Under what circumstances will Ottawa County issue a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory or Boil Water Notice?
7. What are total coliform bacteria?
8. What if I drank some water before I found out about the advisory?
9. What should I do during a Precautionary Boil Advisory Water or Boil Water Notice?