Have you changed your water filter recently? Here’s why you might want to

E. coli was traced back to water from a refrigerator due to an old water filter
E. coli was traced back to water from a refrigerator due to an old water filter
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:28 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - If you have a water filter in your refrigerator, do you know the last time you replaced it?

It’s a question we started asking after the Green Bay Water Utility says it received a house call about E. coli and quickly discovered the source was an old water filter.

General manager Nancy Quirk says not changing those filters can lead to big problems, and those indicators inside many refrigerators are sending you a message you should not ignore. “There’s a warning, so heed that,” says Quirk.

The filters are meant to help you by trapping minerals or elements some people don’t want in their drinking water, but catching too much of a good thing in that filter can turn bad very quickly.

“The filters... because water is flowing through them multiple times, they will capture these minerals and things that are in the water and they build up to a point where, if you don’t follow the instructions, they could come to harmful levels,” explains Quirk.

The longer the filters sit, the higher the risk bacteria, like E. coli, can form.

“The filter is for additional removal of these minerals. Water has good minerals in it, and you want the calcium and the magnesium and things for your body. It’s good for your body,” says Quirk.

While a lot of people use them, Quirk says you don’t have to use a filter, at least for those receiving water from the Green Bay Water Utility.

“We’re doing 10,000 different tests a year. There’s 25 different sites at every point of the city that we’re getting information back to test for E. Coli, making sure we have a chlorine residual, making sure that water is safe,” says Quirk.

“I do not use (a filter), but if you do, again, follow the instructions,” she added.

She says tap water is safe and good for you, but you should make sure it’s cold.

“Usually don’t want to drink warm water. Because it’s warmer, the bacteria grows more,” says Quirk.

The utility flushes pipes every year to keep them as safe as possible and make sure nothing is growing inside them, but the utility also put together a video to show homeowners they should do it, too, once or twice a year.

“Flush those pipes out. Get that water moving,” adds Quirk.

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