Common Water Issues: Bacteria

Understanding Bacteria in Water

Bacteria are tiny organisms that occur naturally in water. While many types of bacteria are harmless and do not cause disease, it is crucial to be aware of the ones that can pose health risks.


Types of Biological Contamination:

Biological contamination in water can be categorized into two main groups:

1.  Pathogenic Bacteria (Disease-causing):

These bacteria can cause severe illnesses such as typhoid fever, dysentery, gastroenteritis, infectious hepatitis, and cholera.


2.   Non-pathogenic Bacteria (Non-disease causing):

These bacteria are generally not harmful and do not pose a health threat.


Importance of Testing Water for Bacteria

Before using or consuming water, it is essential to test for biological content. The presence of E.Coli (Escherichia Coli), a coliform bacterial organism found in the intestines and faecal matter of humans and animals, is a significant indicator. If E.Coli is detected along with high nitrate and chloride levels, it typically indicates contamination from septic systems or sewage, which may have entered the water supply through runoff, fractured well casings, or broken lines.


The presence of coliform bacteria suggests that disease-causing bacteria might also be present, making it crucial to address this issue promptly.


Solutions for Treating Bacteria in Water:

There are several effective methods for treating bacteria in water:



This process involves filtering water through very fine filters to remove bacteria.

Reverse Osmosis:

A highly effective method that removes over 99% of bacteria by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane.


Chemical Oxidation and Disinfection:

The most common and effective method for destroying bacteria. This includes:

1.   Ozone Injection:

Ozone is a powerful oxidant injected into the water supply to disinfect it.

3.  Chlorine Injection:

The widely recognized method where chlorine is added to the water to kill bacteria.

4.  Ultraviolet Sterilization:

This method uses ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. However, it is important to note that:

·  Turbidity, colour, and organic impurities can interfere with UV transmission, reducing its effectiveness.

·  UV treatment does not provide residual bactericidal action, meaning periodic flushing and disinfection are necessary.

·  High purity water systems often use 0.2-micron filtration following UV sterilization to ensure safety.

By implementing these treatment methods, you can effectively manage and eliminate bacterial contamination in your water supply, ensuring it is safe for consumption and use.

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