Iron Bacteria in Water Bores

Cases of high level iron bacteria contamination in water bores have increased rapidly in Australia over recent years.

Bore contaminated with Iron Bacteria

Iron Bacteria in a Water Bore

These iron bacteria produce thread-like slimes which, together with ferric iron, form a voluminous mass which causes major problems in bores, bore casing, screens and/or the aquifer itself. This may result in:

  • Blockages in reticulation systems
  • Burn-out of submersible pumps due to overheating
  • Complete blockage or restriction of underground water into the bore
  • Sand entery into the bore
  • Decreased pumping efficiency – increased electricity consumption & bills

Irrigation systems may block due to iron bacteria slime fouling.

System metals may rapidly corrode due to the acidic substances iron bacteria secrete.

These iron bacteria reduce water quality, cause reddish stains and adversely effect taste, colour & odour.

Water Management Australia provides approved Bore Water Disinfection & Cleaning Services to control iron bacteria & the adverse effects they have on water quality & the bores themselves.

For assistance in theses areas, please contact our office on 08 8557 4347 or email

Case Study

Industrial Factory Garden Irrigation Bore contaminated with Iron Bacteria

A new factory was built near a small country town. One of the conditions placed on the factory owners was that they were not allowed to use the towns drinking water for irrigating their grassed & garden areas because the towns drinking water was in short supply. Several large capacity rain water tanks were provided to collect rainwater from the factory roof areas for irrigation use only. A water bore had been drilled at the rear of the property as a back-up for irrigation during times of drought.

In the first year of operation there was enough rainwater to maintain the irrigated grassed & garden areas but in the second year the bore water pump was turned on to fill the empty water holding tanks. A few days later almost all the irrigation pipeline drippers blocked. The Maintenance Engineer contacted us to investigate the problems.

The drippers were found to be blocked with suspended iron, iron bacteria slime & some mineral deposits. The water holding tanks were found to have “orange rusty water” in them with sludge build-up on the tank floors. The bore was inspected & found to be contaminated with suspended solids, iron bacteria & slime.

So the bore was cleaned & disinfected with WMA 2006 Bore Cleaning Compound. The water holding tanks were de-sludged, then cleaned & disinfected. The irrigation pipe work and drippers were cleaned & disinfected. We then supplied & fitted an in-line filter to capture any suspended solids to prevent them from fouling the holding tanks, pipelines & drippers.

In-Line Water Cartridge Filter Housing

Water Filter to remove suspended solids from the irrigation water

The bore has now operated regularly for the past two years without any iron bacteria fouling or dripper blockages. It is suspected that the bore may have become contaminated with iron bacteria when the bore was drilled with contaminated equipment. Drilling contractors should clean & disinfect their equipment before & after each job but this in not always the case.