Microbiology in Water

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Published Date Written by Ute Rothkegel

Microbiology can be over whelming. Many struggle to pronounce the multi-syllable names of the various species let alone understand the difference between good and bad micro-organisms.

Micro (short for microscopic) organisms live in all parts of the ecosphere. As in all disciplines of science, micro-organisms are categorised into groups and sub-groups. Groups include, amongst others, bacteria, fungi, algae and viruses.

Bacteria is the micro-organism group of focus for this article. There are at least ten times as many bacteria as there are human cells in the body. Though many bacteria are found on areas exposed to the environment (skin, eyes, mouth, nose), the majority live in the large intestine and assist with breaking down food & recycling its nutrients. Provided bacteria numbers stay within their typical ranges and expected areas of the body, their role forms part of the normal human physiology and is vital for maintaining a healthy body.  Thus not all bacteria causes illness!

Quick, reliable, cost effective indicator tests easily identify potential water quality threats. Indicator tests are performed in order to,


provide information as to the type and nature of the pollution

Bulletmonitor the presence and level of contamination and assess its health risk;


evaluate the efficiency of water treatment and disinfection processes.

E-coli is exclusively faecal and, due its growth on media at 44°C, is easily distinguishable from other coliforms. Although the analysis does not determine the organism strain that exists, E-coli indicator tests are perfect for identifying faecal contamination in waters. Water that tests negative for E-coli is less of a health hazard.

All waters used by the public should be tested on a regular basis to prevent disease. UIS ANALYTICAL SERVICES can assist with these tests.

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