Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Coliform Bacteria?
- 2 Best Water Filter for Coliform Bacteria
- 3 Coliform Water Filter Reviews 2021
- 4 Buyer’s Guide
- 5 What Are the Health Risks of Coliform Bacteria?
- 6 How Do Coliform Bacteria Get Into My Water?
- 7 How Can I Test My Water for Coliform Bacteria?
- 8 What Kind of Water Filter Removes Bacteria?
- 9 Key Considerations When Choosing a Coliform Water Filter
- 10 Frequently Asked Questions
Coliform bacteria can present serious health risks if found in well water. In this article you will learn all about these microscopic organism and the top products for removing coliforms from your drinking water.
What Are Coliform Bacteria?
Coliform bacteria, known as coliforms for short, are a common type of bacteria that usually live in the digestive tracts of humans and warm-blooded animals. These bacteria pass out in excrement, and can also be found in soil, plant and organic matter.
When coliform bacteria are present in food or water, it’s typically an indication of unsanitary conditions. Not only can coliform bacteria cause ill health, they also indicate that disease-causing pathogens are present in the substance that they’re found in.
Best Water Filter for Coliform Bacteria
- VIQUA D4 Premium UV System
- SpringWell Whole House Well Water Filter System w/ UV Add On
- Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter
- Waterwise 4000 Water Distiller
|Viqua D4 Premium||Flow rate: 12 GPM|
Power consumption: 50W
Installation: Vertical or horizontal
👉 Read the full review
|SpringWell Whole House Well Water Filter System||Capacity: 10 years or 1,000,000 gallons|
Flow rate: (GPM): 9
Dimensions: 13 x 54 inches
UV filter: Optional
|Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter||Filter longevity: up to 6,000 gallons|
Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 19.2 inches
👉 Read the full review
|Waterwise 4000 Water Distiller||Production rate: 1 gallon/ 4 hours|
Carafe material: Glass
Dimensions: 9 x 15 inches
Coliform Water Filter Reviews 2021
Viqua D4 Premium UV System
The Viqua D4 Premium is a UV purification system that uses high UV output lamp technology to kill harmful pathogens in contaminated water, including the presence of coliform bacteria. This compact water treatment system has a smaller, space-saving eco-footprint while offering the same high level of performance as a longer, standard-size UV unit.
Most UV lamps have a lifespan of 10,000 hours, but with its slightly smaller size, the Viqua has a (still impressive) lifespan of 9,000 hours. With a maximum flow rate of 12 GPM, you can confidently install the D4 Premium in your home without fears that your water flow will be affected.
Installing the Viqua D4 is simple and non-invasive. You simply connect it to your waterline and plug it into a source of electricity. You’ll need to be careful when slotting the delicate lamp into the sleeve, but you don’t need a plumber for the job.
The Viqua D4 Premium is much more eco-friendly than RO systems when it comes to reducing total coliform content, as it doesn’t waste water during use, and only requires a small amount of electricity to operate. It removes the presence of coliform bacteria using the simple, no-nonsense yet effective method of UV disinfection, inactivating the bacteria and preventing it from reproducing.
👍 What I Like
- Relatively easy to install
- Eco-friendly water treatment solution
- Safe and effective to use
👎 What I Don’t Like
- Some aspects of installation may prove challenging
- Doesn’t get rid of chlorine or heavy metals – only pathogens
- Fairly expensive for what it is
Read the full review: Viqua D4 Premium UV Disinfection System Review
SpringWell Whole House Well Water Filter System w/ UV Add On
If you’re looking for a whole home filtration system that can do it all, you’ll find it with the Springwell. When you add the UV light add-on to this system, you benefit from the use of a total coliform in well water filter and filtering system in one.
This whole house filtration solution is designed to remove harmful pathogens that can cause contamination of your private or public water supply. Common contamination particles like chlorine and lead are removed with high accuracy by the Springwell. If your water supply has a high presence of E-Coli coliform bacteria, the additional UV light add-on is one extra purchase that you’ll benefit hugely from.
Installing the SpringWell system can be time-consuming and fairly complex. If you’re handy with DIY, you may feel comfortable doing it yourself. You’re free to call an expert if you’re not used to plumbing work, but this will cost extra on top of the price of the system.
Contaminated water passes through several filtering stages in this system, which reduces the presence of chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, and large sediment, like sand and rust. Once out of the filtering system, it passes through the add-on UV light, which alters the structure of water coliform bacteria, as well as other pathogens like viruses and species of protozoa organisms.
👍 What I Like
- Offers removal of chlorine and other contamination particles alongside coliform bacteria
- Kills disease-causing coliform bacteria
- One of the most thorough whole-home options for private wells or city sources
👎 What I Don’t Like
- Installation is a fairly long, complex process
- Requires multiple different cartridge changes
Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter
The Big Berkey is a countertop water filtering system that offers a convenient, simple method of contamination removal. This system can be used for well water or city sources, and uses a thorough filtering process to reduce the presence of everything from chlorine and suspended sediment to viruses and bacteria – including fecal and E-Coli coliform bacteria.
This system can be set up on a countertop surface and used to treat batches of drinking water, making it safe to drink by humans. The Big Berkey filtering cartridge is known as being one of the best in the US, offering removal of a high level of impurities that’s hard to find elsewhere.
The Big Berkey contains two Black Berkey elements, each of which have a lifespan of 3,000 gallons (or 3 years in total). This makes the Berkey a relatively maintenance-free option for reducing the presence of coliforms. You can even buy two extra elements to double the system’s lifespan.
Impressively, Berkey can remove more than 200 contamination impurities from drinking water, and has been independently tested as proof of its capabilities. The elements contain 6 different types of filtering media, and work off gravity filtration. This means that when the force of gravity sends water from the top tank to the bottom, it gets filtered along the way.
👍 What I Like
- Virtually no installation required
- Can be used for water from wells and city water
- Greatly reduces species of organisms that can cause disease
👎 What I Don’t Like
- No NSF-certification as proof
- May not eliminate all species of harmful organisms
- Takes up quite a lot of surface space
Read the full review: Big Berkey Countertop Filter Review
Waterwise 4000 Water Distiller
The Waterwise 4000 is one of the most effective distillers for eliminating the presence of contamination-causing organisms, like viruses and coliforms. While UV disinfection kills coliforms and filtering systems reduce them, distillers like the Waterwise simply heat water up to boiling point, causing it to evaporate and leaving coliforms behind in the boiling chamber.
There are several different stages of distillation, but you don’t need to know much about the process to enjoy the Waterwise 4000. You simply add well water or city water to the boiling chamber from your faucet, press “start”, and leave the system to get to work.
When water evaporates in this distiller, it passes through a tube and into the glass water collector, where it condenses, forming water droplets again. Most species of contamination-causing pathogens that are found in wells and other water sources are unable to take on a gaseous form – and that includes coliform bacteria. This means the coliform bacteria remains on the surface of the boiling chamber, and can be washed away after distillation is complete.
The Waterwise 4000 is capable of producing 1 gallon of 100% steam distilled water in 4 hours – and if you’ve done your research on distillers, you’ll know this is pretty good. As well as removing E-Coli fecal coliform bacteria from water, it also removes virtually every other contamination particle in water, as most can’t take on a gaseous form either.
👍 What I Like
- No setup or maintenance needed
- Thorough removal of contamination particles
- Usually easy to clean
👎 What I Don’t Like
- Distillation takes a fairly long time
- Contamination particles may prove hard to scrub off boiling chamber
- Not the longest lifespan (usually lasts 3-5 years)
If you’re keen to learn more about Coliform water filters, this buyer’s guide covers everything you need to know.
What Are the Health Risks of Coliform Bacteria?
Consuming coliform bacteria in food or drinking water is a bit like playing a game of Russian roulette – you can never be sure whether the bacteria will cause you harm.
Some common coliform bacteria found in contaminated water are not disease-causing to humans. But certain types of E-coli (Escherichia coli), which is a sub-group of fecal coliform bacteria, can cause serious illness. Some of the health risks associated with E-coli include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Severe stomach cramps
- Loss of appetite and nausea
- Blood in urine
- Health complications including kidney failure
When fecal coliform and E-coli is found in contaminated water, it’s also an indication that other pathogens are present, which may cause viruses and disease in humans, including:
- Protozoa that cause dysentery
- Bacteria that cause typhoid fever and cholera
- Types of virus that cause hepatitis and polio
- Helminths like tapeworm, which can cause malnutrition and diarrhea
How Do Coliform Bacteria Get Into My Water?
Fecal coliform bacteria usually get into water supplies through surface water runoff. Rainwater washes fecal waste from cattle and other animal livestock into small streams that lead to larger streams, lakes and rivers.
Different kinds of coliform can also be found in soil, and can pass through the soil in surface water and into your well water supply. Without a proper bacteria filtering process, these bacteria may pass through your plumbing and into your home along with your well water.
How Can I Test My Water for Coliform Bacteria?
The most accurate way to test for surface water coliform bacteria in drinking water supplies is to send off a water sample to a specialist laboratory. The laboratory should send you a sample bottle to collect your water in. You should then follow the provided instructions to collect your sample and send it for testing within 24 hours. You’ll be informed of which contaminants are found in your water, along with your fecal coliform bacteria total levels.
There are also at-home bacteria testing kits that you can buy online. While many of these are accurate, they can’t offer results as in-depth as a laboratory.
It’s important that you regularly test your well or public water supply for fecal coliform bacteria if you live in the United States, and there are certain circumstances in which you should always ensure that your water is tested. No matter what the situation, you need to get your well checked for coliform bacteria once a year. You should also test for this type of bacteria when you construct a new private well or begin to use an existing well that hasn’t been used recently.
Additionally, if and when any part of your well water system requires repairing, it’s recommended that you test your water supply just in case. Finally, if you have any reason to suspect bacterial contamination – perhaps a member of your household falls ill, or your neighbor reports contamination in their well or water source -you should test your water sooner rather than later.
What Kind of Water Filter Removes Bacteria?
Coliform bacteria isn’t the sort of contaminant that can be removed from a drinking water supply with your average chlorine filtering solution. Only a small number of select types of treatment are effective at the job, including:
UV Purification Systems
UV purification is one of the most popular treatment methods for eliminating bacteria in drinking water.
In the UV disinfection process, UV, or ultraviolet, rays penetrate the harmful contaminants that live in contaminated water. They attack the genetic core of these pathogens, killing them at around a 99.99% success rate and making them unable to reproduce. So while the harmful contaminants are still present in your water, they can’t cause any harm. As well as being effective against bacteria, UV purification systems can also treat water that contains protozoans, such as Cryptosporidium or Giardia.
Water distillers work by heating up contaminated drinking water to boiling point, causing it to evaporate and condense. When water evaporates, the majority of harmful contaminants, bacteria included, are unable to turn into a gaseous form. They remain in the boiling chamber, and can be washed or wiped away after use.
The condensed water drips out of a distiller into a clean, separate pitcher, preventing re-contamination of the water. Distillers are a good option for removing bacteria from small amounts of water, but because the distillation process is long, they don’t tend to be best for consistent use for the average family.
I mentioned that the majority of filtering systems can’t remove bacteria from a water supply, but RO is the exception. This type of filtration is so thorough that it can remove 99.9% of all total dissolved solids (TDS) from water – and that includes bacteria.
In the RO process, water flows through a series of filters, before passing through a reverse osmosis membrane. This membrane contains thousands of tiny micro-pores that allow only the smallest water particles to pass through. Any coliform bacteria in drinking water gets flushed away with the rest of the contaminating particles down the water waste pipe.
RO systems, like UV disinfectant systems, can be installed at your home’s point of entry. However, keep in mind that if you’re filtering a well water supply with a relatively high bacterial content, RO isn’t the ideal method, as bacteria can deteriorate the RO membrane over time.
Other Lab Tested Filters
There are a few filtering options, such as several countertop models, that go above and beyond in their water filtration offerings and can be used to effectively remove bacteria. If a model claims to remove bacteria, it’s important that it has lab testing documents as proof of its ability to do so.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Coliform Water Filter
If your overall water quality is poor, you may need more than just a coliform water filtration solution. For instance, you could opt for a UV purification system alongside a whole home water solution to eliminate the presence of coliform in your water supply while also reducing or removing the other bad stuff. You could also opt for a distiller if you only need to make small, less frequent batches of filtered water.
If your water quality is poor, and your total coliform bacteria is relatively low, it’s worth considering a reverse osmosis model for your home.
Water Flow Rate
If you haven’t already measured your home’s water flow rate, it’s recommended that you do this before buying and installing a solution for treating coliform bacteria in drinking water.
When water flow rate is too high, it might damage certain inline water filters. It may also mean a less effective treatment when it comes to the speed at which water passes through a UV filtering device. A flow rate that’s too low, on the other hand, may affect the power of the water that comes out of your faucets, as a water treatment option will already slow down flow rate somewhat.
Physical Space Available
It stands to reason that if you don’t have any countertop space you’re willing to dedicate to a portable solution for coliform bacteria, you should opt for an inline filtering option instead – and vice versa. It’s important to measure your available space at your chosen installation location to make sure your coliform bacteria filtering solution of choice fits comfortably in place, with room for maintenance if needed.
Installation & Maintenance
Some styles of filtration system for coliform bacteria require more in-depth installation and maintenance than others.
RO systems have several cartridges and media that need to be changed fairly frequently, and, being installed at your home’s waterline, you may prefer to pay a plumber for setup.
UV purification models require a less invasive installation on the outside of your home’s waterline, and virtually no maintenance, while water distillers generally require no installation at all – you just need to make sure they’re set up near to a source of electricity.
All filtering options require a little extra money spent after the initial purchase:
- RO filtration requires cartridge changes every 6 months to 2 years, costing around $20-$50 per cartridge.
- UV purification models are almost free to run – you just need to buy a replacement UV lamp after every year, which costs between $50 and $100.
- Water distillers generally last for a long time with no associated maintenance costs, but some have optional carbon filters on their spouts that need replacing every 6 weeks or so.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why aren’t most filters capable of removing bacteria from water?
Coliform and E-Coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria are typically too small to be filtered out by a standard water filtering solution. This means the bacteria will simply pass through the media with water particles, hence why more specialist filtering methods are needed for the job.
How can I be certain that a water treatment solution removes fecal E-Coli bacteria from water?
Look for lab reports online. If you can’t find them, ask the manufacturer to provide you with the information in the form of the actual report (and not just a copy-pasted section or a screenshot).
How can I be certain that my well water is safe for drinking after filtering it?
An option here would be to get your water source tested at a laboratory for contamination before and after using the filtration solution, which will give you the best indication of how it has reduced or eliminated the total coliform bacteria in your water. You can also check that a filtering system is certified to standards regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).