This is the time of year we see bacteria counts jump in surface water, and in wells influenced by surface run off. If you’ve taken water samples to the local health lab you know the drill; maybe you’ve received an adverse result before, but what does it all mean?
Hard truth: “Bugs” are in our water and all around us. Most micro-bacteria are harmless, but some can make you quite sick. Avoid consuming water which is untreated. Bacteria gets bad when your water source is compromised, be it from a septic breach, surface runoff or even a little critter getting in your well! Public Health says a bad sample is >5CFU (coliform forming units) or the presence of any E. coli.
UV light neutralizes harmful bacteria like this by breaking the DNA bonds so they can’t reproduce. Unlike chlorine or peroxide treatment, with UV there are no chemicals entering the water. Ultraviolet is a cost-effective way to ensure safe, clean drinking water. Most UV lights use between 20-60 watts of energy, and need to be changed once a year (twice if you winterize your cottage). After about 9,000 hours the intensity starts to drop off, and the bulb isn’t as effective. The glass tube or sleeve should be cleaned and the unit sterilized when swapping out the bulb. This can be done by the homeowner (if they’re comfortable) or by a knowledgeable service technician.
Whether you’re on a well or drawing from the lake, the responsibility of providing safe drinking water falls on the home owner. Know what’s in your water and ensure you have the right equipment to treat it. Get your water tested and talk to an expert if you’re unsure.
Rowan Fleming – Owner of McLeod’s EcoWater