Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

E. coli needs attention, not apathy


August 31, 2017

I am dismayed and disappointed at the cavalier response of the borough manager to the discovery of coliform bacteria in the Mud Bay “spring.” This is a genuine public health issue, not a subject for government apathy. It is of considerable importance affecting numerous residents and visitors alike who utilize this water regularly. 

Dozens of people draw their drinking water from this source daily. It is not uncommon to see people waiting their turn to collect water. Having alternative (paid) sources available or not being part of the Borough’s formal network is irrelevant. It is a fact of continuous public usage.

Recognizing this reality, ordering regular, thorough bacteriologic assessments, publicly releasing specific ppm data, itemizing other E. coli strains and colony counts uncovered, noting all other pathogens or contaminants ... this is the necessary and positive function of government to protect its citizens. This information would allow people to make a reasoned judgment regarding potability. If the water is found to be polluted, the Department of Transportation should post warning signs and request that dogs be leashed. E. coli comes in many strains - some harmless. Others cause bloody diarrhea, anemia, kidney failure and urinary tract infections. The mere presence of E. coli as an “indicator” of other pathogens is reason enough to investigate. I find little comfort in the testimony of those fortunate souls who claim long-term use has not hurt them. Yet. Strains mutate. Immune systems differ. Colony counts matter. What other pathogens lurk?

Drew Degen


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