EPA responds to Ebeye water problems

An EPA official takes a water sample from a catchment tank on Ebeye for laboratory testing.
An EPA official takes a water sample from a catchment tank on Ebeye for laboratory testing.

An outbreak of diarrhea on Ebeye could be linked to the high percentage of private and public water catchments that are contaminated with E.coli (human or animal waste) or other forms of contaminants.

In response to requests for assistance from authorities on Ebeye, RMI EPA laboratory technician Paul Paul went to Ebeye to conduct numerous water quality tests earlier this month.

The results showed that 19 of the 31 water catchment tanks tested on Ebeye were positive for E.Coli.

Similar results were seen on other inhabited islands around Kwajalein Atoll.

“All seven samples collect from Bikej Island were positive of presence of E.coli, two of two of the samples collected from Carlos Island were also positive and unsafe four drinking,” said Paul in a report to EPA, Ministry of Health and Kwajalein Atoll Local Government authorities. All nine of the samples from Eneboj Island were also positive for bacteria and “unsafe for drinking due to elevated numbers of E.coli,” Paul said.

Meanwhile, the KAJUR-provided reverse osmosis (RO) treated water is safe for people’s use, Paul said.

Paul explained that most of island residents’ water is stored in containers or buckets that are contaminated with E.coli and other bacteria.

“RMI EPA and Ministry of Health distributed pamphlets that provide guidelines for how people can treat water using regular chlorine,” Paul said. “Recommendations were also made towards better upkeep and cleanliness of containers: they need to be clean.”

“EPA has reached the islets (in Kwajalein Atoll) and treatment is complete,” said EPA General Manager Moriana Phillip. “Beginning Tuesday, EPA is treating Ebeye hospital source and Ebeye households (water catchments).

Read more about this in the March 22, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.