For a refresher, this video is a great place to go.
E.coli, also known as Escherichia coli, is a bacterium that is found in the intestines of warm blooded animals. Scientists
use E. coli as an indicator of water that has been contaminated with fecal matter. The bacteria
associated with fecal matter (not just E. coli but many other types of bacteria and viruses) can make people sick if they come in
contact with contaminated water. Monitoring for E. coli helps protect water for recreation
and drinking water.
While wild animal waste going into lakes and streams cause naturally low levels of E. coli, the problem comes when too much untreated domestic animal or human waste enters water bodies. Problems can arise if waste from septic tanks, wastewater treatment plants, or animal production for food is not properly treated before it enters water ways.
The Coliscan Easygel medium is a patented formulation for testing surface waters. It is a simple, accurate and quantitative way to identify and differentiate coliforms and E.coli from other bacteria in water. To identify the presence and numbers of coliforms and E.coli a sample is collected, then is added to the Easygel medium, mixed and poured into a petri-dish, and incubated at room temperature or at a higher controlled temperature (35oC is recommended). One of the main advantage of Coliscan Easygel method is that it uses proven and accepted technology to allow anyone to do effective coliform and E.coli testing without expensive equipment.
Note: As you collect your sample make observations that may give a clue to the source in case of contamination:
- Obvious pollution issues
- Visible discharge from pipes or outfall into the water
- Toilet paper and other materials commonly flushed
- Outfall pipes flowing during dry weather
- Patches of algal growth or vegetation
- Scum or films on or under outfall pipes
- Potential sources of bacteria such as pet, wildlife or livestock waste
- Any other unusual conditions
Below are general steps to the E.coli sampling, the tabs above have detailed explanations about how each step is performed:
1. In the field Sample Collection
2. Inside Plating
3. Incubation Period