Web sites have flaunted the results of studies about bacteria on and around the ice machines and soda fountains in the food service industry (especially the self-service ones. Yuck!) but today’s email inquiry comes to us from ‘Jacky’ who said,

“My friends and I own a small eatery with a bed-n-breakfast in the mountains and we have water from the town. Every once in a while the news tells us to boil until further notice. The last time it happpened a customer asked how long they could have been drinking bacteria water before the news told us to boil the water. I said we don’t know and they said we should know that sort of thing before we serve people food and drink. How long COULD the water have been bad?”

From the sounds of things you had a real snot eating or staying in your place. We hope he/she at least tipped well and didn’t cause you any other grief!

Regarding the answer to the question asked, you will have to talk to the town water department and ask them for information on their bacteria testing policies and public notification policies since some municipal water systems have tighter, more stringent testing requirements than others — but none can get any looser than those set by the State & Federal Governments.

Regular testing for bacteria?

We assure you that your local water department, if it follows State and Federal Water Treatment & Testing Guidelines, performs regular testing for bacteria, testing for chlorine and tests for a host of other important water quality contaminants and water quality parameters on a regular basis.

Test Kit for 95+ Water Quality Parameters
Test Kit for 95+ Water Quality Parameters

If you want more detailed information on the steps used by your local water company to protect you from bacteria and other unwanted drinking water contaminants, we suggest that you contact your local water department directly.

As we mentioned, city and municipal water departments take specific, regulated steps to protect their customers from bacterial contamination… but even in the best of circumstances sometimes things happen which could possibly put those customers at risk.

Water main breaks between the water treatment plant and customers’ homes as well as unexpected equipment failures at the water treatment plant can both certainly happen at any time and both may result in opportunities for bacteria to enter the drinking water supply.

Personal protection against bacterial contamination?

Recently a number of folks have started installing UV water sterilizers like the Crystal Quest UV 6 in their homes as a final layer of protection against bacterial contamination. These devices render bacteria unable to reproduce by exposing the unwanted critters to a specific wavelength of UV light.

Crystal Quest UV-6
Crystal Quest UV-6 Water Sterilizer

So, while the devices do not necessarily kill the bacteria right away, UV water sterilizers like the Crystal Quest UV 6, when used in the right application, make certain the organisms do not have a chance to multiply and create problems for those who ingest them.

Please note, however, that UV water sterilizers should NOT get used as the first line of defense against bacteria when dealing with untreated and/or unfiltered water.

Why? Because UV water sterilizers can do nothing to remove unwanted particles, solids and/or chemical contaminants. To remove things of that nature one should consider a unit that uses activated carbon, reverse osmosis, etc.

While on the topic of commercial water filters…

Jacky had concerns about water quality in a commercial setting so it only makes sense that we end this article by mentioning the CQE-UV-00105, a commercial UV water sterilizer with a flow rate greater than 22 GPM.

Crystal Quest CQE-UV-00105