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Kuressaare drinking water testing continues

Efforts to replace the water in the system in Kuressaare.
Efforts to replace the water in the system in Kuressaare. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

Pollution in drinking water on the island of Saaremaa has reduced but is still not safe to drink. Water company Kuressaare Veevärk is waiting for the results of new tests.

Tens of thousands of bottles of water have been delivered to schools in Kuresaare after problems were reported a week ago.

Liis Lepik, assistant mayor of Saaremaa municipality, said the distribution of water only started recently as it was initially hoped the crisis would end quickly.

"Every day we had this hope that from tomorrow the samples would be clean and we could tell people that you can drink tap water and it's safe. Really, we didn't expect this crisis to be so prolonged and now we are really seeing that the more prolonged it is, the more burdensome it is for people to either buy bottled water or boil it at home," she said.

Samples taken on Thursday showed drinking water is still polluted in the city. Residents are advised to boil any water before it is consumed or to drink bottled water.

The water company is also asking islanders to turn on their taps to flush out hidden bacteria.

Kuressaare Veevärk manager Aivar Sõrm said customers will receive a discount in May although it is not known exactly how much.

"The priority today is that maybe on Sunday, maybe on Monday, we can say that this story is over," he said.

Dozens of residents are still in Kuressaare Hospital with stomach problems. The Health Board said that in addition to E.coli, other bacteria were also found in the drinking water.

"In addition to Escherichia coli, samples have also contained campylobacter and enterovirus, rotavirus and norovirus. But it's entirely to be expected that other pathogens are present in addition to water contamination. And clinical samples taken from hospital patients have also detected norovirus, for example," said Andras Armvärt, head of the Health Board's crisis preparedness department.

"Once we are satisfied with the results that the water in Kuressaare is safe to drink, we will inform all residents of Kuressaare and Saaremaa via SMS alert," he added.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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