Abstract Treated groundwater is a major source of drinking water but subject to potential contamination of fecal–oral pathogens. To understand ecology of the pathogens in the treated water, this study evaluated survival and growth of Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli in the treated groundwater in northern Cameroon. E. coli and V. cholerae O1 were isolated from human feces. Water samples were collected from the following sources: a well, tap water from the Cameroon Water Utilities Company, and mineral and borehole waters sold in Maroua, respectively. These waters were treated by one or more processes, including autoclaving, filtration, chlorination and ozonation and were used for the constitution of microcosms. E. coli and V. cholerae were inoculated into each microcosm at respective concentrations of 50 CFU/10 mL (separately) and 40 CFU/10 mL each (together). All bacterial strains survived in all microcosms were used. The ability to survive and grow varied with the bacterial strain and microcosm (P < 0.05). When inoculated separately into the same type of microcosms, V. cholerae grew faster than E. coli with the latter even showing decrease in concentration in mineral water. When inoculated together, V. cholerae grew faster than E. coli, except in autoclaved well water and filtered and autoclaved well water. Autochthonous ultramicroflora inhibited the growth of E. coli in filtered well water (P < 0.05).