What does the presence of total coliform bacteria in drinking water indicate?
The presence of total coliform bacteria in tap water indicates possible problems in the water treatment system or in the pipes that distribute the water. Presence of particular types of total coliform bacteria, specifically, fecal coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli), often indicate the existence of an urgent public health problem. Fecal coliforms are a category of total coliform bacteria that are found in human and animal excretions (52 FR 42178, 42196; November 3, 1987). Generally, fecal coliform bacteria and E. coli are not harmful themselves, however human pathogens often co-exist with these forms of coliform bacteria (54 FR 27544, 27555; June 29, 1989).
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