Associations between water sources, socio-demographic characteristics and household drinking water quality are described in a representative sample of six coastal districts of Ghana's Central Region. Thirty-six enumeration areas (EAs) were randomly chosen from a representative survey of 90 EAs in rural, semi-urban and urban residence strata. In each EA, 24 households were randomly chosen for water quality sampling and socio-demographic interview. Escherichia coli per 100 ml H2O was quantified using the IDEXX Colilert® system and multi-stage regression models estimated cross-sectional associations between water sources, sanitation and socio-demographic factors. Almost three quarters, 74%, of the households have >2 E. coli /100 ml H2O. Tap water has significantly lower E. coli levels compared with surface or rainwater and well water had the highest levels. Households with a water closet toilet have significantly lower E. coli compared with those using pit latrines or no toilets. Household size is positively associated, and a possessions index is negatively associated, with E. coli. Variations in community and household socio-demographic and behavioural factors are key determinants of drinking water quality. These factors should be included in planning health education associated with investments in water systems.