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Current IssueNovember 27, 2014
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Ask The Expert: E. coli & coliform
01/01/2002 
 
Question: I'm really confused. It seems like everybody and his dog is claiming to have the best water treatment process/device/filter/system on the market. I have two major concerns: 1) E. coli and 2) coliform. I've been told there are only three ways to get rid of E. coli: boiling/distillation, chlorine, and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. I've been told that filters will get rid of coliform. I'm not currently looking at treating my own water supply, but am looking at purchasing land in the near future. In a nutshell, what gets rid of E. coli, and what gets rid of coliform. Thanks for your trouble.

Wayne Seher
Manitoba, Canada
 

Answer: E. coli and coliform fall into the class of microorganisms known as pathogenic bacteria. Fortunately, they're quite readily killed with iodine, bromine and ozone, as well as the technologies you enumerate in your email. I would not rely on any filters, even reverse osmosis, to completely eliminate either E. coli or coliform bacteria. From a homeowner's perspective, the best way to eliminate these pathogens from a groundwater supply is chlorine, either in liquid or tablet form. I might add that these technologies do not "get rid" of the microorganisms, but rather inactivate (kill) them.

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