E. coli is a subgroup of the fecal coliform group. Most E. coli bacteria are harmless and exist in the intestines of people and warm-blooded animals. However, some strains can cause illness. The presence of E. coli in drinking water usually indicates recent fecal contamination. That means there is a greater risk that pathogens are present. Boiling or disinfecting contaminated drinking water destroys all forms of E. coli.
What if E. coli is present in my water? Presence of E. coli in a water system indicates recent fecal contamination, which may pose an immediate health risk to anyone who consumes the water.
If it is a public water system, they will issue a “Boil Order” within 24 hours to alert all water users of a health risk associated with the water supply. The Boil Order usually recommends using boiled or bottled water for drinking, preparing food, and brushing teeth. It also outlines the steps underway to correct the problem and explains when the system expects to resolve the problem. Responding to health emergencies is our highest priority. We will inspect the system as soon as possible to help the water system resolve the problem. More water samples will be collected to find and eliminate potential contamination sources, and a system not normally disinfected will most likely be chlorinated and flushed. The Boil Order will remain in effect until the situation is resolved and the water is safe to drink.