E. Coli Detected in Haines’ Water Supply

Haines residents are being told to boil their drinking water after E. coli was found in the municipal water system.

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Local officials issued the notice Wednesday after a routine test turned up the bacteria.

Haines Borough Manager David Sosa says officials think the contamination might come from a spring that feeds into the water system.

“There could be a septic system that’s leaking into it. There are a number of other options it could be. And we want to make sure we hit the right answer on this.”

He says the community’s main water source is a lake south of town. If tests show it’s clean, it can supply the whole community, without the spring-fed system.

“What we can do is cut off the water from that system, introduce more chlorine into the system, purge the entire system and then fill the system up. That would take time but that’s the safest and best action we can take  for the community.”

Residents are being told to boil their water for two minutes, which will kill off the bacteria. Some are also using bottled water.

E. coli can cause diarrhea, cramps and vomiting. Young children, older people and those with weak immune systems can experience kidney failure.

Borough Manager Sosa says informational fliers were posted around Haines and delivered door-to-door. He also informed the local clinic.

“I went over to SEARHC and I spoke with the administrator there and with the staff so I could advise them of the situation so they could be prepared to look for potential symptoms that might be associated with this.”

Officials are unsure how long it will take to drop the boil-water notice. But it could easily last through the weekend.

Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell.

He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues.

He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.

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