My Well Water Tested Positive for Coliform: What Should I Do?

  • By: Promise
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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Once your well test positive for coliform, the best thing to do is to stop drinking the well water to avoid getting infected and shock your well water to treat the coliform. 

Well water is the oldest man-made source of water ever discovered. The painstaking process of digging right into the soil for days, weeks, and months is certainly not a feat for the weak.

Rainwater and well water are still widely consumed, but a considerable rise in diseases linked to the consumption of untreated well waterfalls is for concern.

One of the causes of these diseases is the Coliform bacteria, which is not totally harmful in itself, but with an aura of warning that any well water it is found in, must be avoided till necessary steps are taken. Those steps will be discussed in this article.

Origin of Well Water

In earlier times, well water simply came from underground – which makes anyone guess how deep the earliest wells were dug. However, most wells now get water from aquifers rather than from underground rivers.

Aquifers are layers of rock and soil, through which water flows through their small holes.

In most cases, there are no huge underground caves with rapid movement of water. Instead, groundwater flows slowly and gently through small spaces in rocks, between rocks, and between loose materials such as sand and gravel.

New water, such as rain and thaw, drips from the pores and crevices of rocks and soil to the ground. Some water adheres to the surface and stones are near the surface, but some water continues to drip.

The layer of soil just below the surface is a mixture of rock, soil, water, and air bubbles. When gravity pulls water deep enough into the ground, it fills all possible pores and cracks and pushes up air bubbles.

At this depth, the soil becomes saturated with water. The boundary between unsaturated soil and saturated soil is called the water table.

The exact location of the water table depends on the amount of new water, the rate of water runoff, and the permeability of the soil.

When you dig a hole in the ground that ends above the water table, most of the water at that depth adheres to soil and rock debris, so there is little water spilling into the hole.

On the other hand, if you dig a hole, deep enough to end below the water table, gravity will draw the water from the saturated soil into the empty space at the bottom of the hole.

In this case, your hole will be filled with water dripping from the hole in the rock. However, water only fills the holes to the level of the water table (actually a little lower).

In order for the water in your hole to rise above the water table, it will have to flow upwards rather than downwards, it is not how gravity works. A “well” is a hole that is deep enough to be filled with water because it is below the water table.

What Does it Mean for a Well Water to Test Positive for Coliform?

In itself, ‘Coliform’ is a bacteria that is usually harmless, However, it is known as an “indicator organism.” This means that in case the Coliform is detected in your well or found in your well water, there may be a very great likelihood that other types of harmful bacteria and pathogens are present in the water too.

In addition, there are certain variants of coliform that are harmful to the body and could cause harm if unknowingly ingested. If one’s well water treated positive test for coliform indicates that there could be dangerous organisms in your drinking water.

What to Do if my Well Water Test Positive for Coliform

In case you do not have access to a professional wellness treatment service provider or a solution is needed for your well as soon as possible, there is an effective but temporary route to clean your well.

To get rid of bacteria from your well, you need to “shock” it with a high dose of chlorine. The amount of chlorine required depends on the depth of the well, the pH of the water, and the amount of slime or biofilm.

Keep in mind that chlorine is corrosive and should be handled with care. Place chlorine in the fountain for at least 12 hours before rinsing the water. You can’t drink water that has been heavily chlorinated – It is very harmful!

For more information, you can read a full article on how to treat Coliform in well water here.

More preferably, hire a water treatment expert to get the job done. Experts know exactly how much chlorination is needed and how to safely dispose of chlorinated water after impact treatment.

It is important to remember that shocking a well does not provide a long-term solution to the ongoing pollution problem. This is a quick solution that needs to be combined with long-term disinfection.

Sources of pollution can be very complex, so if the source of pollution has already been addressed (through procedures such as repairs), you should only rely on temporary solutions such as shock chlorination. If the source of the contamination is unknown, continue disinfection.

There are various disinfection options. The Point of Youth (POU) system treats water at a specific faucet. For example, if you install a point of use system in a kitchen sink, water from the kitchen faucet will be treated, but not from the bathroom faucet.

It is also important to note that water-borne pathogens are associated with both gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses.

Some pathogens can be inhaled from shower water. The Point of Entry (POE) system treats all the water that enters the house, so you can make sure that the water that comes out is disinfected and turn on all the faucets.


Prevention, will forever, be way better and cheaper than cure. This only emphasizes the necessity of carrying out regular checks on our wells especially when the water from thence is consumed in homes and residential apartments.

This will help to drastically curb the occurrence of water-borne diseases like dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, etc that are gradually introduced by COLIFORM at the very earliest detectable form possible.

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