Common Bacteria Found in Water

Whether you want to pay attention to it or not, there are all types of bacteria in your home water supply. Just because the water coming from the tap in your home looks good and tastes OK, doesn’t mean it is free of impurities and bacteria. In truth, pure water does not exist.

This is not to frighten you. The water coming out of your tap without water filters in use, will most likely not hurt you, at least not in the short term. Some of the bacteria in the home water supply are actually helpful to your system. Others don’t have an immediate effect, but over time it can cause you to get sick, especially if the water has a high amount of bacteria in and you have a weakened immune system.

The common bacteria that exist in most potable tap water are:
1. Coliform Bacteria. These are incredibly common and live in soil and the intestinal tracts of animals. These end up in the water supply due to run-off in lakes, rivers and streams, as well as septic tanks. The harmful forms of bacteria known as E. Coli fall into this category.

2. Cryptosporidium. This protozoan parasite enters a water supply if a sewage line runs into it. The bacteria come in oocytes, which we ingest by drinking the water. Once these forms of bacteria in our system, they will cause serious sickness and discomfort to the digestive tract. It is also important to note there is no cure for this form of bacteria, and the body’s immune system must fight it off on its own. While most healthy people can, those with weakened immune systems can die from these bacteria.

3. Giardi Lamblia. This parasite comes from fecal matter and can imbed itself in the intestinal wall. This causes terrible pains and problems with the digestive tract, resulting in diarrhea, nausea and weight loss. However, this is rarely fatal and goes away within two weeks or so in most cases.

4. Legionaaire. These bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in warm water, like hot tubs, pools, hot water tanks and large plumbing systems. These bacteria are most harmful if they are inhaled into the lungs, like through steam in a shower or steam room. This can then lead to a very serious type of pneumonia.

The only way to know if the water coming out of the tap in your home has harmful bacteria in it, is to take it to a laboratory and have it tested. While this is rare in the United States, bacteria gets into drinking water supplies in homes, apartment complexes and larger communities more often than you might believe. The public water system is tested regularly, but a home plumbing and watering system is not, which is where these colonies of bacteria can get their start. It is especially important to test if you have just had a baby, members of the family are suddenly getting sick, a new pump has been installed or you have recently dug a well. Drinking water should be tested at least once a year.