Kuressaare contaminated water issue affects private wells also

Kuressaare town center during a recent 'street picnic' event.
Kuressaare town center during a recent 'street picnic' event. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

Issues with contaminated water on the island of Saaremaa affect local wells owned by private citizens, in addition to the water supply at Kuressaare, the island's capital.

The problem as reported currently affects Kuressaare, population a little over 13,000, and its environs, and not the entire island.

Contamination has been detected not only from boreholes located at Tõlli, 7km from Kuressaare (see map below) and the source of the town's water supply, but also in privately owned wells within a radius of around a kilometer from Kuressaare, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday.

Issues with E.Coli and E.Coli-like contamination have been reported in Kuressaare since early summer, though the actual source of the poulltion has yet to be properly established – though Jaak Haamer, head of the Environmental Board's (Keskonnaamet) Saaremaa office, ruled out both agriculture and sewage treatment as potential causes.

The location of Tõlli (red pin) and Kuressaare, within Saaremaa. Source: Google Maps

Haamer said the latest water readings are "rather marginal."

"However, they certainly indicate contamination, and more specifically the fact that this pollution could have entered the groundwater from surface run-off. There has been no pollution from agricultural activities or from sewage, anywhere.

"We will expand the catchment area a little more within this week and we will also be taking samples from outside the Tõlli-Ansi water catchment area, in order to get a clearer picture of ​ potential microbiological pollution coming from further afield," Haamer went on.

While Kuressaare's drinking water has been chlorinated, rendering it safe to drink, the Health Board (Terviseamet) recommends boiling water taken from privately-owned wells, ahead of drinking.

The Environmental Research Center (EKUK) has taken samples from wells on private properties, and detected bacteriological contamination.

Kuressaare Veevärk is the company which provides water in Saaremaa's capital.

Residents elsewhere on the 2,683-square-kilometer island will obtain their water from other suppliers and sources, including from their own well as noted (these are often powered by motor pumps as opposed to drawing the water manually).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Margus Muld.

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