Pontiac officials are fairly certain that there was no bacterial contamination of the
city's drinking water supply in August.
October 10, 2003
But they don't know for sure. That's because the city failed to take some repeat
samples that might have confirmed that the contamination happened either when the original
samples were taken or when they were tested at the Oakland County Health Division
"I believe that somebody just simply was unaware that three repeat samples were
required from every location where there originally was a positive," said Bill
Ripple, water and sewer superintendent for Pontiac.
The samples that were taken, he said, "came back negative. It's our belief that if we
had taken the repeat samples all of them would have been negative and there would have
been no question."
Five of 42 test samples taken during August were positive for fecal coliform, which is
used as an indicator that other potentially more harmful, organisms may be present. The
state standard for drinking water is no more than one positive test in a month.
"There's never been more than one total coliform positive in a single month,"
All of the positives in August happened before the blackout on Aug. 13. Some of the repeat
samples were taken Aug. 12 and 13, according to Ripple. All tests since
then have been negative, he said.
Pontiac sent a letter to residents and businesses explaining the tests that were positive
for fecal coliform and the steps the city has taken, as well as the violations that it
incurred for having five positive results in a month and failing to take all of the
required repeat samples.