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Tell-Tale Signs of Bacteria in Your Water

microscopic blue bacteria background

Municipal water treatment has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past century, but the systems are still not perfect. Others may depend on well water along with their own treatment options by proxy. Both situations invite the potential for water contamination from bacteria. Waterborne bacterial infections are a leading cause of death in children aged five and under worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

In the United States, these incidents occur much less frequently but are still far from unheard of. 33 drinking water associated outbreaks occurred between 2009-2010, according to the most recent CDC data. 78 percent of associated infections originated from Campylobacter ingested within contaminated drinking water.

Those concerned about the risks of these infections can use the following warning signs to determine if their water is contaminated.

Unusual Odors and Colors

Rarely, a bacterial outbreak or contaminant will cause a subsequent change in the quality of your drinking water. Signs include:

  • Cloudiness
  • Strange tinting or color
  • Unusual taste
  • Odors of sulfur, rotten eggs or manure
  • Suspended solids

These abnormalities can usually be detected more readily in room temperature water that has settled for thirty minutes to an hour.

Unfortunately, bacteria rarely reveals its presence in water so readily. Signs such as these more often relate to mineral deposits, corroded pipes and other such contaminant sources. Most bacteria cause no change in smell, color or taste within drinking water. Sediment or mineral intrusion could indicate contaminant sources, however.

Local Visual Cues

Sometimes, contamination comes from seemingly distant sources. Livestock cesspools, chemical dumps, agriculture operations with significant chemical use and more can within your area all create conditions that promote bacterial growth. Even a nearby stream, river or lake could be a contaminant source as contaminating runoff finds its way into groundwater.

You can survey possible nearby chemical sources by looking at Google maps. Most municipalities also offer testing data for local reservoirs, aquifers and municipal water treatment facilities, such as this 2016 Water Quality report for Las Vegas Valley. Finally, well water users can refer to USGS groundwater sampling data or order a quality assessment of their own.

Symptoms of Waterborne Bacterial Infections

Most people cannot rely on visual cues in their water or in their area to tell when they have contamination. If they do not test their water regularly, they will only discover the presence of bacteria when they feel its effects take hold on their body.

The most common sign of such infections is diarrhea. Vomiting is also common, as can be fevers, headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness and urinary tract issues. Many of these symptoms are identical to food-borne illnesses. You can test your water supply for the presence of coliform bacteria as an early indicator that other strains might be present.

Preventing Waterborne Bacteria with Las Vegas Reverse Osmosis Systems

Reverse osmosis systems provide one of the most consistent safeguards against waterborne pathogens. Whether installed at the municipal source, at the well or at the tap, reverse osmosis systems can greatly decrease the risks of infection for you and your family.

Explore your options for Las Vegas reverse osmosis filtration by visiting our corresponding information page.