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APS TechNotes See all articles

About Bacteria in water and how to treat it

Bacteria issues are usually over looked in many non-municipal water systems.

How high is the bacteria in your water?
Find out with Bacteria Test Kits

Also see : Pseudomonas Bacteria in Water Systems

Pseudomonas bacteria can be found naturally in the ground and within drinking water sources such as aquifers. Conventional drinking water treatment systems can remove or inactivate these bacteria, but they may continue to multiply within finished drinking water attachments and can cause negative health effects in humans under certain conditions.

Elevated numbers of Pseudomonas may indicate the development of a bacterial layer on surfaces within a distribution system. Such surface areas may include home water treatment devices that utilize carbon filters or membranes. However, the presence of disinfectants such as chlorine or chloramines, when applicable, can control (but not prevent) such growth. Furthermore, Pseudomonas species ability to slow their metabolism allows them to survive in bottled or distilled waters for months at low densities.

Several guideline values exist for both Pseudomonas and heterotrophic plate count (HPC) measurements, heterotrophic plate count (HPC) being a relatively simple indicator of a wide range of bacteria including several Pseudomonas species. However, health-based limits and mandatory drinking water standards do not currently exist for either. United States federal regulations do not specifically restrict Pseudomonas in drinking water supplies but include the commonly used HPC level of 500 colony forming unit per milliliter (cfu/mL) as an indicator of a sufficient detectable residual disinfectant

The basic rule of thumb is that if water does not contain chlorine and it sits still for any period of time it will grow bacteria. We were all told as we grew up not to drink from a stagnant pond or we can get sick. This isn't all that all much different from a house or business. When you remove Chlorine from water, it will start to grow a lot of bacteria. Chlorine is a bacterial sterilizer in high enough dosages ( > 100 p.p.m.) but in the dosages used in normal supply lines (< 2.5 p.p.m.) you will usually find some low level of bacteria still growing within your pipes. If you add Activated Carbon, or as some call it whole house filtration systems to your water supply it will happen even quicker. Bacteria needs to adhere to something in order to grow into colonies. If you want to stop bacteria from growing, you need to have the water always moving at greater then 2 feet per second. This just isnt feasible for most residential and commercial water systems.

There are several technologies that can help control but not remove all bacteria.

Reverse Osmosis

  • About Reverse Osmosis Systems

  • What are RO stages and do they matter?

  • See All Reverse Osmosis Systems

    Chemical Injection

  • Chemilizer Injection Pumps

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    Ultraviolet Light

    (with a 256 nm bulb with less then 8000 hours on it.)

    These light use UV light to interfere with the DNA of the Bacteria cell causing reproduction difficulties.


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