How to Remove Bacteria from Water

Removing bacteria from water in your home

How to Remove Coliform Bacteria in Well Water

Bacteria in water is a big problem for many households on private wells. Waterborne bacteria and other living microorganisms have the potential to make us very sick. In fact, nearly 7.2 million Americans become ill from waterborne diseases each year--and having a well puts you at significantly more risk of water contamination.

bacteria in well waterStudies show that 40% of private wells have coliform bacteria present at any given time, not to mention the other bacteria such as E. coli, that could also be in a water supply. Potentially 7.6 million households need a way to address bacterial contamination.

19 million households in the U.S. rely on private well water, yet more than 50% of these wells have never been tested. The tough part is that the quality of well water can vary from day to day. And daily water testing and monitoring is a laborious process.

The best way to ensure your well water is safe from illness-causing bacteria and other microbes, is to install a UV water disinfection system. UV water filtration systems can monitor your water 24/7, and kill bacteria at >99.9999% and viruses at >99.99%.

If a UV sterilizer is not installed, test your well water frequently to make sure your household water is safe.

If your well tests positive for coliform bacteria, it may signal that other disease-causing organisms are present in the water.

What Bacteria is Found in Well Water?

Different types of bacteria can live in water. The problem is that you cannot smell, taste or see bacteria in your well water. Bacteria cannot be detected without performing a water test.

Salmonella, Iron bacteria, Shigella, Vibrio, Coliform bacteria including E. coli are bacteria commonly found in water.

Other microbes commonly found in water include:

Viruses: Rotavirus, Hepatitis A & E, Astrovirus and Poliovirus

Protozoans: Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Entamoeba

The above is not a comprehensive list of waterborne microbes. Most of the above-mentioned microbes are commonly associated with gastroenteritis resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramping.

Two Ways to Remove Bacteria from Your Water

Step 1

Well shocking with chemicals is a common practice. Unfortunately, this method is only a temporary fix, and the well must be continually tested to ensure bacteria hasn't returned.

Step 2

Installing a UV water disinfection system monitors the water 24/7 against 99.99% of viruses and 99.9999% of bacteria.

Top-Selling UV Water Disinfection System

Viqua D4 UV Water Sterilizer

The VIQUA D4 Ultraviolet disinfection system provides a reliable, economical, and chemical-free way to safeguard water for every faucet in your home.

The D4 is point-of-entry (POE) water treatment solution designed for small to mid-sized homes and can provide protection even from chlorine-resistant parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, plus harmful bacteria like E. coli, and various microbiological contaminants. Learn more >

What is Coliform Bacteria in Well Water?

If your well tests positive for coliform bacteria, it may signal that other disease-causing organisms (pathogens) could be in the water.

The presence of some coliform bacteria indicates that fecal matter or sewage waste may be present. A UV water sterilizer is the best way to protect your household from coliform and other bacteria. UV light works 24/7, and is a safe, economical, chemical-free way to treat your well water.

Learn more about how UV water filtration works to achieve bacterial removal.

How do I know if My Well Has Total Coliforms, Fecal Coliforms, or E. Coli?

For an indication of the bacterial contamination conditions of your water supply, a total coliform bacteria test should be conducted. Testing is the only reliable way to know if your water is safe. Those on wells should test for coliform at least once per year and late spring or early summer is the best time to test. If a test comes back positive for bacteria, you should treat (by chemical shocking or UV water sterilizer) and test again.

    1. Total coliforms include bacteria found in water, soil and in human or animal waste.
    2. Fecal coliforms are the group of total coliforms found specifically in the gut and feces of warm-blooded animals. Testing for fecal coliform is considered a more accurate indication of human or animal waste than total coliforms test.
    3. E. coli is the main species of the fecal coliform group and is considered to be the coliform species bacteria that best indicates presence of fecal pollution and the possible pathogens. 

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Should I Worry About Bacteria if I'm on City Water?

Most municipal water suppliers treat bacteria using chlorine and/or UV light. Yet some households on "city water" still choose to install a water disinfection system to provide a final barrier of protection for their family. When water pressure drops from a water main breaks or electrical power is lost at the water treatment plant, standard water treatment methods can fail. The city or municipal supplier issues a boil water advisory to all customers. Those who have installed a UV water disinfection system do not need to boil their water.


What are the Dangers of Bacteria and Viruses in Water?

The following are some pathogens or organisms that could be present in your water:

  • Viruses that cause hepatitis or polio
  • Protozoa that cause dysentery
  • Bacteria that cause vomiting and diarrhea

Can Reverse Osmosis Remove Bacteria from Water?

Reverse Osmosis technology is not designed to remove bacteria, as membrane deterioration can occur due to these living organisms. Bacteria removal is best achieved with a UV water sterilizer system. We highly recommend pairing a whole-house UV water sterilizer system (installed at your home's water point of entry), with a Reverse Osmosis drinking water system installed under the kitchen sink

Best UV Water Sterilizers for Well Water


For great-tasting water that is free of bacteria and viruses, you want the VIQUA IHS22-D4. This pre-assembled high-capacity unit combines the powerful VIQUA D4 UV sterilizer with an integrated filtration package for the reduction of sediment, dirt, chlorine, as well as unpleasant tastes and odors.


This economical UV water disinfection system treats up to 9 gpm, perfect for a home with 1-3 bathrooms. The compact, yet powerful design of the VH200-F10 can remove sediment, dirt and rust, while also killing 99.99% chlorine-resistant parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, harmful bacteria like E. coli, and viruses not visible to the eye.

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