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 laboratory.

"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," Ripple said.

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.