Haines’ Mud Bay spring water tests positive for E. coli

A Haines resident fills up buckets of water at the Mud Bay spring to use for drinking and cleaning. (Photo by Abbey Collins/KHNS)

A popular but unregulated and untreated drinking water source in Haines has tested positive for E. coli.

KHNS had a sample of the Mud Bay spring water tested as part of a series focused on answering listener questions.

Juneau-based water testing company Admiralty Environmental said preliminary results show E. coli is present in the water.

E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria associated with human or animal waste.

The bacteria is not always harmful, but certain strains can cause health problems.

Admiralty’s test does not include what level or strain of the bacteria is present.

Federal standards for drinking water do not allow for any level of E. coli.

The Haines Borough does not regulate or test the Mud Bay spring, but many residents use it as their drinking water.

The spring is located near Letnikof Cove.

Cindy Christian, a drinking water specialist with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, said she would recommend boiling the water when it’s going to be consumed.

These are preliminary results.

KHNS will have more information after Admiralty Environmental completes its full report in the next couple weeks.

Haines residents who do not get the borough’s water supplied to their home can pay $30 per season to get water from their tanks.