What are total coliform bacteria?
Total coliform bacteria are a collection of microorganisms that live in large numbers in the intestines of humans and animals, as well as in most soils and surface water. A sub-group of these microorganisms is the fecal coliform bacteria, the most common member being E coli. These bacteria occur naturally in lakes and streams, but indicate that the water is contaminated with human or animal waste and therefore may pose a health risk to people who drink it.

The water treatment process removes these bacteria from the water, but events such as a water main break or a loss of pressure in the water distribution system may allow these bacteria to enter water lines through cracks in pipes or back-siphoning from a residential plumbing system. Boiling water vigorously for 1 minute will kill these bacteria and make water safe to drink.

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1. Do I still need to boil my water if I have a filter system on my faucet or refrigerator?
2. How long must a Boil Water Advisory or Notice be in effect?
3. How will I be notified if my home / business is affected by an advisory or notice?
4. How will I know when the advisory or notice has been lifted?
5. Is the water safe for washing dishes, laundry, and bathing?
6. Since an advisory is a precautionary measure, will I get sick if I drink the water or if I drank some water before I found out about the advisory?
7. Under what circumstances will Charleston Water System issue a Boil Water Advisory or Notice?
8. What are a Do Not Drink Notice and a Do Not Use Notice?
9. What are total coliform bacteria?
10. What is a Boil Water Advisory and is it the same as a Boil Water Notice?
11. What should I do during a Boil Water Advisory or Notice?
12. Where can I find more information?
13. Will DHEC issue a Boil Water Advisory in preparation for a hurricane?