Why we should test for Coliform & E. coli presence around our lake front properties?
Q: “I have seen turtles, snakes, minnows and fish this summer, doesn’t seem this worry about coliform & E.coli in water quality testing is such a big concern. Why do I need to test my own septic?”
A. It’s awesome that you’re able to enjoy a healthy ecosystem, cold blooded species are not affected by coliform & E. coli. It’s spread through warm blooded mammals, like us and it has the potential to cause serious illness. We should test our septics to see if there is any runoff that can enter the lake.
Research provided by McKellar’s Lake Stewardship & Environmental Ad Hoc Committee, reports that coliform is a naturally occurring bacteria present in the feces of warm blooded animals. E. coli is a particular strain of bacteria that is composed of many variants, some can cause infectious and potentially severe illness in people. Narrowing in on the lottery of being exposed to the specific illness causing pathogen - is like a crap shoot, that literally ends as a crap shoot, if you know what I mean.
The bad varieties cause intestinal illness that works its way through your body like a flu virus. It can show up as a urinary tract infection, severe stomach cramps, a fever and diarrhea. It is contagious so washing hands is of utmost importance.
Having coliform & E. coli show up in a water quality test is absolutely the exclusive result of faecal contamination. Faulty septics, dog poop, water fowl poop, the presence of a beaver. Without a healthy riparian, heavy rains and surface waters, can weep into shorelines. Interestingly enough, sand harbours large amounts of coliform as the fine particulates are a natural filter. The trouble is, if dogs are digging and children are making sandcastles, they can expose themselves to these contaminates and spread them further into the lake.
DIY SEPTIC TEST
A faulty septic system can happen to anyone. Accidental damage, blockage, forgetting to empty it out regularly or excessive rain can flood the field where not too far down below - microbes are doing their magic. A healthy septic system must keep everything under the ground, if effluence is exposed it can be carried to the lake. Septic Dye Tests are designed to give property owners reassurance. You just pop the dye capsule down the toilet, wait 24 hours and at night, take a black light flashlight and survey your septic field for florescence. If you see anything, you know you have a leak. Then, wait a few days and keep watching, if you see the florescence in nearby creeks or at your waterfront, you will know for certain, the entry of coliform & E. coli.
1 - dye test & black light flashlight
2 - flush dye capsule down toilet
3 - at night watch for florescence