From Iceland — Wildfire In Heiðmörk Dangerously Close To Reykjavík's Water Supply

Wildfire In Heiðmörk Dangerously Close To Reykjavík’s Water Supply

Published May 6, 2021

Alina Maurer
Photo by

The wildfires in Heiðmörk on Tuesday seem to have been the second largest of its kind in Iceland since the great fire at Mýrar in Borgarfjörður fifteen years ago. The first four months of the year were the driest in Reykjavík for more than a quarter of a century.

Dangerously close to Reykjavíks water supply

The fires had come dangerously close to the water sources of Reykjavík and Kópavogur, says Olgeir Örlygsson, the operation manager at Veitur in an interview with RÚV. He states that it is closely monitored whether pollution is entering the water source but that it is considered unlikely.

Reykjavík’s and Kópavogur’s water source is in the immediate vicinity of the area that burned yesterday. It is about a kilometer to the well area in Vatnsendakrikur from where the fire brigade managed to contain the fire in the morning. In recent years, Veitur has installed several fire hydrants in Heiðmörk due to the danger of wildfires.

The fire brigade was consulted due to the increased risk of pollution accidents that accompany the traffic of large vehicles, such as pump trucks with a considerable amount of fuel through the water protection area. Oil and other substances can escape from the surface and can go into groundwater streams from which the city’s drinking water is pumped.

When asked whether water pollution has occurred, Olgeir Örlygsson states, “No, I do not think so. But we are watching closely. It so happens that we have installed chemical monitoring equipment in our wells. As a result, we could tell if something starts to get into our water, but I think it is fine.”

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.

Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!