What's the difference between coliform and E. coli?
Good question. The coliform count can indicate the possibility of e-coli. Here's what the Environmental Protection Agency has to say on the subject:
"Coliforms are bacteria that live in the intestines of warm-blooded animals (humans, pets, farm animals, and wildlife). Fecal coliform bacteria are a kind of coliform associated with human or animal wastes. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is part of the group of fecal coliforms.
In themselves, coliforms generally do not pose a danger to people or animals, but they indicate the presence of other disease-causing bacteria, such as those that cause typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis A, and cholera. Both coliforms and disease-causing bacteria live in water. But unlike coliforms, disease-causing bacteria generally do not survive long enough in the water, outside the body of animals, to be detected.
Sampling and testing for the presence of disease-causing bacteria is therefore difficult; instead, scientists and public health officials consider the presence of coliforms an indicator of disease bacteria in recreational, drinking and flood waters."