June 20, 2022

Water, like everything in the world, including us humans, contains bacteria and microorganisms. Some bacteria are good and needed. Some bacteria is bad for our health. Escherichia coli (E. Coli) bacteria, found in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, can enter water, then people. If this happens, it can cause serious health reactions, illness and death. Can there be E. Coli in your drinking water?

What’s E. Coli?

E. Coli is a coliform bacteria found in the intestines of animals and humans. There are many different strains of coliform bacteria. Some are harmless. Some, including E. Coli, are dangerous. E. Coli is a serious cause of waterborne illnesses in the U.S. If E. Coli is in drinking water, it’s likely come from sewage or animal waste contaminating the water.

E. Coli is a rod-shaped bacteria commonly located in the intestines and feces of warm-blooded animals. One method of identifying bacteria or contaminant counts is to count the variety of bacteria colonies that grow on a controlled medium. E. Coli in freshwater is identified by counting the number of yellow and yellow brownish colonies growing on a 0.45 micron filter in incubation at 35 degrees Celsius for 24 hours. The growth of urea substrate verifies the colonies in a sample are E. Coli.

E. Coli present in freshwater is typically due to fecal contamination from warm-blooded animals. Although generally safe, E. Coli can trigger ailments such as meningitis, septicemia, urinary system tract infection, and intestinal infection. A recently found type of E. Coli (E. coli 0157: H7) has been found to cause extreme illness and may be fatal in small children and the elderly.

E. Coli and Bacteria in Water

Bacteria are common single-celled microorganisms. Bacteria is naturally in lakes, rivers and streams. Some bacteria is harmless to humans. Some are necessary for our body’s functions and good health. Some can potentially cause disease and be fatal. A high volume of harmless bacteria can be an indication of harmful bacteria in the same water source. Viruses and protozoans can also be present in water. E. Coli can be discovered in the environment and foods, as well. Some types of E. Coli can trigger diarrhea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory disease, pneumonia, and various other diseases.

Quick Facts on E. Coli in Drinking Water

  • E. Coli Infection is Most Harmful to Children and Seniors

Any person at any age can become infected and ill due to E. Coli. Children age five or younger, elderly people, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems or other recent illness are more susceptible to severe illness and complications from consuming water with E. Coli.

  • E. Coli Symptoms Can Set in One Day or Less

Symptoms from consuming E. Coli bacteria can show up in a few hours, a day or up to about eight days later. Symptoms from infection usually happen in 1-2 days. E. Coli creates a toxin that causes severe abdominal pain, vomiting and more gastrointestinal symptoms.

  • Natural Disasters Can Put E. Coli in Water

Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters can cause E. Coli contamination in a water supply. A water main break, from any cause or disaster, can have E. Coli leak and run into drinking water.

  • Precipitation Can Send E. Coli into Water

Even without rising to the level of a disaster, rain and precipitation can send E. Coli into bodies of water or groundwater. This can contaminate public water supplies.

  • Removing E. Coli from Drinking Water

You can eliminate E. Coli from drinking water. A high quality water filtration system using activated carbon filtration and UV modern technologies can effectively eliminate E. Coli from drinking water.

More on How E. Coli Gets into Water

The presence of E. Coli in drinking water generally means the water was infected by sewage waste or animal feces. This often happens from one of a few common ways.

Can There Be E. Coli in Your Drinking Water?
E. coli is a coliform bacteria found in the intestines of animals and humans.
  • Agricultural Rain Runoff

Rainfall, especially from heavy storms, can come into contact with animal waste from farms or ranches, then run into what will be a water source. If the waste has E. Coli, the bacteria will be in wells or public water sources.

  • Sewer Overflow

When there is heavy precipitation in urban areas, sewage systems can overflow. The water can flow over streets and sidewalks and run into drinking water lines. It can also go into nearby lakes and rivers that link to sources of drinking water.

  • Broken Water Mains

If a water main breaks, water that’s polluted with E. Coli can run into the fractures of the broken pipes and penetrate the lines that provide tap water to the public.

Signs of E. Coli in Drinking Water

The most common signs and symptoms of exposure to E. Coli are severe diarrhea and stomach cramping that can last as long as 5-10 days. The bacteria is a more serious threat to seniors and young children. E. Coli can damage red blood cells and cause kidney failure. Some strands of E. coli are worse than others. The most hazardous strands can be harmful to any person.

How to Eliminate E. Coli in Water

E. Coli is an organic pollutant, this means the best way to eliminate it is to install a UV light water filtration system. This type of water treatment system shines ultraviolet lights onto the water in a system. The UV kills E. Coli bacteria or makes it harmless. A UV light system will eliminate or protect against other bacteria, viruses and infections in a water system, including for a home. This is a consideration for keeping your family healthy and safe.


South End Water Filtration specializes in HALO Water Filter products including the HALO H2 Zero Whole Home Water Filter. HALO systems solve hard water problems, give your family clear, great-tasting water and are totally maintenance free. We’re just a click away to help and answer any questions. South End Plumbing and South End Water Filtration will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-486-1988 or contact us online to schedule a visit.