First test 'clear,' but boil-water advisory continues

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

In results touted as "a sign that there is nothing wrong with the water" in Hamtramck, Highland Park and a large section of Detroit, the first round of water testing has come back clear, the Great Lakes Water Authority announced Thursday afternoon.

A statement issued by GLWA officials Thursday said the advisory will continue through the originally stated 48-hour time period. That would put it until about noon on Friday.

"A second round of test results will be returned tomorrow and upon a second clear result, GLWA will recommend that the boil water advisory be lifted."

Tuesday night, the Great Lakes Water Authority issued a boil-water advisory for residents and businesses south of McNichols, east of Linwood on the west side and west of Connor on the east side, including Midtown and downtown Detroit, and the entire communities of Hamtramck and Highland Park.

GLWA spokeswoman Amanda Abukhader said Wednesday afternoon that the low-pressure situation resulted from a malfunctioning pump, which has since been resolved. Water pressure has been restored. The boil-water advisory was issued "out of an abundance of caution," Abukhader said, as the necessary water safety tests take 48 hours to come back.

It is that same abundance of caution that has led the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to require that the advisory remain in place until the 48-hour time frame elapsed. A second round of tests will come back Friday. If they're clear as well, the boil-water advisory will be lifted.

A boil-water alert has been issued for Detroit as well as Hamtramck and Highland Park

Between residents and businesses, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department serves some 200,000 customers in the city, said spokesman Bryan Peckinpaugh. There was no estimate of how many people are affected.

"Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using, or use bottled water," the initial statement on the advisorysaid. "Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice."

Detroit Public Schools Community District officials said Wednesday they are "taking action to provide water to schools."

"Water in (these) schools must not be consumed during the next 48-hour period for drinking or cooking unless boiled," DPSCD said in a release. On Thursday, 26 DPSCD schools were closed as a result.

The Office of School Nutrition is providing water for drinking, the district said.  Authorities have been instructed to shut off water at the drinking fountains. Wayne State University, in Midtown, is telling students to use bottled water in the meantime, according to an alert from the school.

Wednesday at Parc, the new restaurant at Campus Martius Park, the boil water advisory took some adjusting, said manager Theodore Oresky.

The tap water that would be a customary offering to each guest has been replaced with bottled water, Absopure.

The options for pop drinkers are a bit more limited, though, since the soda gun requires the use of tap water. In its place, big bottles of pop are available to waitstaff to pour drinks.

"I don't have ginger ale today," Oresky said of the relatively limited replacement offerings, but customers can still order the soft drink.

At a health juice store called Drought, tap water-related problems had no impact: it's not sold, offered or used to make the juices it sells. The only warning sign on its front door advises customers to watch for the step down once inside the door.

Clerk Portia Gordon, 25, lives in Detroit and will be affected by the advisory when she gets off work.

But she said she prefers to drink bottled, alkaline water at home. Even if this were a normal Wednesday, Gordon said she'd boil water if there were no alkaline water available -- too many concerns about fluoride in the water to trust it.

Across Campus Martius Park in Cadillac Square, it was business as usual at the Roasting Plant coffee shop.

Manager Kristen Wing, 25, explained that the shop has its own water filtration system.