The "boil water notice" from the Environmental Protection Division is over, Commerce city manager Pete Pyrzenski announced at about 4 p.m. Friday.
Seventeen new samples taken Thursday from throughout the Commerce water system came back free of contamination. Officials actually got the lab results early on Friday, but the EPD policy was to keep the advisory in effect for 24 hours.
"Everything is fine, and I can say that with full confidence," Pyrzenski said.
City officials were confident from the beginning that the EPD's findings were wrong. When three of four routine samples taken Monday were determined by the EPD's lab to have E. coli bacterial contamination, city officials and those in ESG Operations, the company that operates the water plant, immediately suspected an error had been made either in the sampling or at the EPD lab. The chance of E. coli being present in sufficiently chlorinated water at three diverse locations from two water tanks was "virtually impossible," but EPD issued the "boil" notice out of what Mayor Clark Hill termed "an abundance of caution." Officials speculated that the sample bottles provided by EPD may have been corrupted. The bottles arrived unsealed, with visible moisture inside.
The city delivered bottled water to the Commerce schools and to Northridge Medical Center. It put notices on its website and Facebook page, called schools and restaurants on the system and notified the local news outlets. The city also contacted Northridge Medical Center and the nursing home to confirm there were no GI issues.
ESG and Pyrzenski have indicated that the city will send its water samples going forward to a private lab and will use disposable sterile sampling bottles.