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KPI of the Day: % Samples testing positive for coliform bacteria

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coliform

Definition

Measures the percentage of the sample tests that were positive for the coliform bacteria, out of the total water sample tests taken, during the reporting period.

Purpose

To monitor the water’s chemical composition and quality.

Recommendations

In order to be considered drinkable or usable for industrial, agricultural purposes, water has to pass specific quality checks which assess overall water quality standards. Among the possible sources of contamination that water may get in contact with include sewage releases, storage tanks, fertilizers, or leakages from manufacturing processes such as the production of heavy metals.

Given the crucial role of water needed for the progress of daily activities, its primary quality is considered top priority. Public authorities and local governments must ensure strict control and regulate the occurrence of specific quality tests on a time to time basis.

Among the tests conducted, coliform bacteria are one of the most common. Sample testing for coliform bacteria commonly determines the safety of private wells and springs. It indicates the possible presence of pathogenic bacteria within the water and related health risks.

Generally speaking, bacteria in the coliform group do not cause diseases if there is little of it, however, water suppliers and public institutions must make sure to minimize the risk of contamination. Sample testing evaluates the quality of water, while also preventing potential diseases from spreading out. Safe, bacteria-free water is an asset.

Therefore, some recommendations to reduce the occurrence of bacteria positivity tests include the following:

  • Developing and implementing a maintenance plan to eliminate the source of bacterial contamination from within wells and springs;
  • New structural designs of buried wells, to avoid entrance of external bacterial substances and surface water;
  • Assessing the implementation of shock chlorination and disinfection programs, to be conducted in contaminated water supply, for coliform bacteria elimination.

Targets should be tailored based on the total amount of tests conducted. Industry standards assess that no more than 5 % of the samples tested are positive for coliform bacteria. Ideally, the KPI should be as close to zero as possible.

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