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Test results show fresh water system, lagoon water sites polluted

By Giff Johnson MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, May 2, 2011) - Testing of Majuro’s fresh water system and lagoon waters showed high levels of contamination, said a report issued Thursday by the Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

EPA testing results showed that 40 percent of the more than 30 water samples taken from the city fresh water system in the capital contaminated with feces or other pollutants.

"We advise that people boil water thoroughly before drinking," said Abraham Hicking, chief of EPA’s water quality monitoring laboratory.

A majority of Majuro lagoon sites tested by the EPA also showed they are unsafe for swimming and fishing.

Of the 14 lagoon locations checked where the majority of the Majuro’s estimated 30,000 people live, eight were found to be contaminated. This is in part caused by residents maintaining pens for pigs next to the lagoon and people throwing trash into the lagoon.

The Environmental Protection Authority warned island residents about using these areas for fishing and swimming. "The high counts of bacteria could lead to health problems ranging from skin diseases, diarrhea or gastroenteritis and other health problems," said Hicking.

Four public and private schools checked by EPA also showed contaminated drinking water, Hicking said. Two large public elementary schools and one secondary school showed feces contamination in their water catchment taps, while a private school was found to have other contamination in its fresh water tanks making it unsafe to use.

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