General Questions

Technical Questions

Why should drinking and recreational waters be tested for bacterial contamination?

Answer: While water may look clear it may harbour numerous non-visible microorganisms. Most waterborne microorganisms are harmless however pathogenic microorganisms may be present, and may cause illness.

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Why are Total Coliforms and E. Coli used as indicator bacteria to monitor fecal contamination in water?

Answer: Bacterial indicators are enumerated in natural waters to assess the presence and level of fecal contamination and thus determine the potential for disease. Total Coliforms and E. Coli are widely used in regulatory monitoring of natural waters. E. Coli is present in extremely large numbers in the feces of all mammals, and does not multiply appreciably in the environment outside of its host. For this reason, E. Coli is recommended as the main indicator of fecal pollution (WHO, 2000). The presence of E. Coli in water indicates that fecal contamination from humans or other warm-blooded animals has occurred. Therefore, it is probable that pathogenic organisms are also present (An et al., 2002).

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What are the health effects from contact with bacterial contaminated water?

Answer: Ingestion of bacterial contaminated water could result in gastro-intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. In severe cases ingestion could cause acute kidney failure. Swimming in bacterially contaminated waters could result in gastro-intestinal symptoms, eye infections, skin complaints, ear, nose and throat infections and respiratory illness.

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What are the maximum limits for Total Coliform and E. Coliin drinking waters and in recreational waters?

Answer: Ontario has set a drinking water standard of 0 coliform forming units (cfu’s) Total Coliform / 100 ml and 0 cfu’s E. Coli / 100 ml water sample. The recreational guideline is 1000 cfu’s Total Coliform / 100 ml and 100 cfu’s E. Coli/ 100 ml water sample.

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How reliable is the Coliplate™ technique compared to standard lab techniques?

Answer: Numerous scientific comparative studies have confirmed that the newer technique utilized in Coliplate™ (known as the defined substrate method) is faster, easier and more accurate than the older membrane filtration and multiple tube fermentation methods employed in commercial labs. For this reason the defined substrate technique is now increasingly being used by researchers, universities and government agencies on all levels.

We are providing a complete reprint of one of these scientific papers for your review, entitled “Comparison of a Novel Coliplate™ Kit and the Standard Membrane Filter Technique for Enumerating Total Coliforms and E. Coli Bacteria in Water”.

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Is the Coliplate™ and Watercheck™ technology approved by government regulatory agencies such as American Public Health Association (APHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?

Answer: The defined chromogenic and fluorogenic substrate method of bacterial testing for Coliforms and E. Coli has been approved by APHA and EPA for a number of years now. It has been widely recognized that the defined substrate method is a more rapid, user friendly and accurate test in comparison to the traditional standard methods.

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What are the benefits of using Watercheck™ and Coliplate™ to analyze the bacterial status of water over the traditional method of collecting a water sample and sending it to the local public health authority?

Answer: With Watercheck™ and Coliplate™ technology, you and your family are able to conduct your own water analysis, with results within 24 hours. The traditional laboratory method used by public health authorities for bacterial analysis tends to be a more time-consuming process. Watercheck™ and Coliplate™ provide an easy, effective and proven reliable alternative to monitoring your family’s drinking and recreational water.

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What steps should be taken if Watercheck™ or Coliplate™ technology indicates that E. Coli is present in a drinking water sample?

Answer: If Watercheck™ or Coliplate™ produce fluorescence, it is recommended that a repeat sample be taken to ensure accurate and consistent results. If the repeat sample also indicates the presence of E. Coli, water should not be consumed unless boiled or chemically treated. Your local public health authority should be notified immediately so that appropriate action may be implemented.

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What is the lifespan of Watercheck™ and Coliplate™?

Answer: Both Watercheck™ and Coliplate™ have a long shelf life. Watercheck™ and Coliplates™ are guaranteed for a shelf life of 3 years. However, they are generally still effective for up to 5 years, if they have been stored properly. It is recommended that you store Watercheck™ and Coliplates™ in a sealed package and in dry conditions.

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What if the wells turns green instead of blue?

Answer: When interpreting colour change in the micro-wells, any green, blue-green and blue colour change, regardless of the intensity of the colour change, is indicative of a positive reaction and should be enumerated.

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What if a well is clear and then when placed under the UV light it fluoresces white?

Answer: When a cell is clear and then fluoresces under the UV light, do not enumerate that cell. Only count the cells that turn blue and fluoresce as a positive E. Coli reaction. When a cell turns white (under UV light it appears to glow white) it may be indicative of a number of factors, including algae, a fungus spore or some other biological activity. These should be ignored as they are not indicative of water contamination by bacteria.

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