Feeling a little queasy? It might have been that burrito you had at lunch. But it’s also possible that your well water is polluted.
E. coli and other coliform bacteria cause major gastric and digestive illness. A mild infection produces what may feel like food poisoning. More serious infections can cause the kidneys to shut down. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of serious complications. They can be at risk even if they ingest a small amount a small amount of the bacteria. E. coli is found in human and animal waste. Normally it is filtered out as surface water penetrates the earth, but it can end up in ground water and in your well.
What can cause well water to become contaminated with E. coli and coliform bacteria? According to the Centers for Disease Control, environmental factors include:
The Environmental Protection Agency also includes factors such as nearby agricultural leach fields or septic systems spilling over and excessive rain or snow melt as being potential sources of bacterial pollution.
E. coli contaminated water has been the culprit in many fruit and vegetable recalls. Packaged salad greens, Romaine lettuce and strawberries are some of the most recent examples of food that has been contaminated. The produce had been irrigated with tainted water, and the bacteria is taken up into the plant tissue.
Water that contains coliform bacteria doesn’t look, smell or taste differently than clean water. The only clue that a high concentration of coliform bacteria may be present is that you begin having recurring digestive problems such as diarrhea, vomiting or you experience high fevers frequently. For this reason, it is wise to have well water tested at least once a year by a professional. If harmful bacteria are present, then the well can be sanitized with a shock chlorine treatment. A professional can also uncover vulnerabilities in your ground water system and suggest preventive measures.
Don’t play with the health and safety of your household; call Mosman Well Works to have your well tested for E. coli and coliform bacteria if you have had any symptoms of illness, or if there have been any events that may have opened your ground water to pollutants.