What do my test results for total coliform mean?

A negative test for total coliform and E. coli indicates that the water is safe to consume. A positive test for total coliform and/or E. coli is indicative of contamination. A positive test result can be caused by many factors including a dirty tap, poor sample collection procedures, well problems such as a bad cap or seal or cracked casing. If the test result is positive for both total coliform and E. coli, raw sewage contamination is present. Capital Region Environmental Laboratory reports quantitative test results for total coliform and qualitative E. coli results. Low quantitative test results may be indicative of poor sampling techniques or a dirty tap. Repeat sampling using a more stringent disinfection procedure or another tap might be suggested. Any water sample containing total coliform and/or E. coli should not be used for drinking unless boiling the water before consuming. Public water supplies that receive a positive test for total coliform and/or E. coli are required to contact their local Department of Health. Private homeowners are suggested to take corrective actions such as disinfecting the well and/or contacting a local well drilling or water conditioning company to discuss corrective actions or treatment options.

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