What are they?
Fecal coliforms are bacteria found in the fecal material of humans and other warm-blooded animals.

Why test for them?
Although total coliform by themselves are not disease causing (pathogenic), they are an indicator of the number of pathogenic organisms in the water.

If fecal coliform counts are high in a surface water, a person swimming in that water has a greater chance of getting sick from swallowing the water, or from pathogens entering the body through cuts in the skin, nose, mouth or ears. Diseases such as typhoid fever, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, dysentery, and ear infections can be contracted from waters with a high fecal-coliform count.

Where do they come from?
They enter surface waters with agricultural and stormwater runoff and improperly treated municipal wastewater. Specifically, concentrated animal feeding operations, pet wastes, and naturally occurring sources.

How can we prevent them from entering our surface waters?
Diverting stormwater runoff around feedlots, picking up pet waste and properly disposing of it, and ensuring that our city's treatment systems and private septic systems are operating efficiently will help prevent surface water contamination.