Drinking Water Contaminated in Borgarfjörður Eystri Skip to content
Photo: Golli. Borgarfjörður Esytri.

Drinking Water Contaminated in Borgarfjörður Eystri

Residents of Borgarfjörður Eystri, Northeast Iceland, have had to boil their drinking water for two weeks due to the discovery of coliform bacteria in both of their water sources, RÚV reports. The water supply has been drained and chlorinated.

East Iceland’s Public Health Authority discovered bacterial contamination in the supply during routine sampling in late September. The results came in on October 2 and residents were immediately told to boil all drinking water.

Soil subsidence a likely cause

The cause of the contamination is likely a pipe that was pulled out of a well in the spring above Brekkubær, providing a way for pollution to enter the water. “This has probably come about because of soil subsidence [sinking ground] in the wet land in that area,” stated Glúmur Björnsson, a geologist at utilities contractor HEF Veitur. Glúmur stated that staff has since chlorinated the wells and water tank and rinsed the system. “And we hope that will be enough for us to solve this.”

No illnesses reported

However, contamination was also detected in other wells, which means the dislocated pipe may not be the only cause. Authorities may install a UV water purifier in the system to kill germs. For the time being, residents must continue to boil drinking water. No illnesses have been reported in connection to the contaminated water.

Read More: A Wealth of Water

About 95% of Iceland’s drinking water is groundwater, most of it untreated. This groundwater is extracted from springs, wells, or boreholes. While Iceland’s drinking water is generally safe, waterborne disease outbreaks do occur. During the two decades between 1998 and 2017, there were 15 registered waterborne outbreaks in Iceland affecting 8,000 people and leading to over 500 registered illnesses. All of them occurred in small water supplies.

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