Abstract The water disinfecting behavior of silver-modified clinoptilolite–heulandite rich tuff (ZSAg) as an antibacterial agent against coliform microorganisms from water in a continuous mode was investigated. Silver recovery from the disinfected effluents by the sodium-modified clinoptilolite–heulandite rich tuff (ZSNa) was also considered. Escherichia coli (ATCC 8739) and total coliform microorganisms, as indicators of microbiological contamination of water, were chosen to achieve the disinfection of synthetic wastewater or municipal wastewater. Ammonium (NH 4 +) and chloride (Cl −) ions were added to the synthetic wastewater as an interfering chemical species on the disinfection processes. The antibacterial activity of the ZSAg as a bactericide was measured by the coliform concentration as evaluated by the APHA method. The amount of silver in the disinfected effluents was determined using atomic absorption spectroscopy. The inactivation of the ZSAg was calculated from the breakthrough curves based on the model reported by Gupta et al. It was found that when the silver concentration in the effluent is less than 0.6 μg/mL, the bacterial survival percentage increased and the volume of disinfected water diminished. The total silver amounts found in the effluent at the end of the disinfection processes varied depending on the water treated (synthetic or municipal wastewater). The presence of NH 4 + ions in synthetic wastewater influent notably improved the disinfected water volume (zero NVC/100 mL), in comparison to the disinfection of the same influent without NH 4 + ions. A contrary water disinfection behavior was observed in the presence of Cl − ions. The silver recovery does not depend on the mass of the sodium zeolitic bed according with the wastewater to be treated (synthetic or municipal wastewater) and the presence of NH 4 + or Cl − ions in the influent also influenced the silver recovery from wastewater. The ZSNa did not have antibacterial activity. Therefore the amount of bactericide agent (silver-modified natural zeolite), coliform microorganisms from water ( E. coli or consort of coliform microorganisms) as well as the water quality (synthetic wastewater or municipal wastewater) influenced both the disinfection process and the silver recovery in a column system.