Another E.Coli outbreak found in Kuressaare tap water

Tap water (photo is illustrative).
Tap water (photo is illustrative). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Another outbreak of E.Coli contamination has been found in drinking water in Kuressaare, capital of Saaremaa.

The recommendation from the Health Board (Terviseamet) is once again to consumer bottled water, or at the very least to boil tap water before consumption.

The issue affects drinking water in Kuressaare and environs, as opposed to the entire island.

Mayor of Saaremaa Mikk Tuisk said that there is currently no exact explanation why Kuressaare's drinking water has again tested positive for E.coli; clean water originates at the island's water treatment plant, but at some point gets polluted between that point and entering water pipes to individual properties.

Tuisk told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Sunday that: "It seems that this pollution is a bit more widespread. Fortunately, these readings are not as strong as they had been in the spring, but the situation is still worrying. There are more E.coli-like bacteria, while E.coli itself has actually raised its head across the town. The figures are still small, but there is certainly nothing to be happy about."

Mikk Tuisk. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

Saturday's water samples in any case displayed a rise in E.Coli levels compared with Thursday's data.

Schoolchildren and indeed everyone else have been recommended to take bottled water to school or work, while tanks of drinking water have been made available in the town center, as they were during previous outbreaks, and in schools.

Since the readings are still comparatively low, the Health Board says that boiling water before drinking is an acceptable final resort.

Previous E.Coli contaminations were found in Kuressaare in May, and again in July. Those outbreaks were put down to untreated sewage having found its way into drinking water pipelines.

Kuresaare has a population of around 13,000, compared with the island's permanent overall population of a little over 31,000.

Most water supplies are provided by municipalities across Estonia, the one major exception being Tallinn, where drinking water and wastewater services are provided by Tallinna Vesi, a private company. Additionally in more rural areas, many people pump water from a well on their own property.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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