Total Coliform Bacteria

Water Quality Measurement  | Biological Parameter

Lake Pend Oreille | Pend Oreille River

Total Coliform Bacteria and E. coli are important because they serve as indicators for other, more pathogenic bacteria and viruses, especially those shed with human feces. Fecal contamination can include viruses like Hepatitis A, and bacteria like Shigella spp. or Vibrio cholera from humans, while wild or domestic animal feces may contain parasites such as Giardia spp., Cryptosporidium spp., or Salmonella. High levels of indicator bacteria may indicate high levels of these other pathogens as well.

Total coliform bacteria and E. coli measurements are very important to our high-use public access areas, like Sandpoint’s City Beach. Our measurements are recorded in MPN/100mL or “Most Probable Number” per 100 mL of water, which is a statistical probability of the number of organisms present in the water. 

LPOW generally finds very low concentrations of these indicator bacteria in our lake and river, which is great news for everyone who enjoys our swimming and recreation areas!

How to use the graph: View data for only one month by clicking on that month in the legend. Supplemental information is provided by hovering over a data point. 

For a link to IDEQ’s Water Quality Standards, click here.

For an explanation on Box Plots, click here.

Support this Program!

Laboratory analysis of water samples are very expensive totalling about $1,000 per station per field season. Your donation helps cover the costs of collecting & analyzing water samples.

Become a Citizen Scientist!

Become a trained citizen scientist. Collecting water samples is a great way to enjoy time on the water & get involved in active stewardship of our local waterways!