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WT Staff

SDWA Profiles
Rochester City Water
Securing the safety of the public water supply

Thursday, March 21, 2024 - updated March 23, 2024 933 am

Drinking Water Advisories
Neighborhoods served by the Highland Park Reservoir came under a boil water advisory Tuesday, March 19. The City and the Monroe County Department of Public Health implemented the boil order following the discovery of a body in the reservoir Tuesday morning. Water customers in the downtown area impacted.

City of Rochester has three drinking water reservoirs. Under the circumstances of security breach such as this tragic incident, raw water supply from the compromised reservoir was shut off, the water plant drawing from the alternate reservoirs.

WTNY asked City of Rochester how the water plant staff are trained to respond to a breach to the security of the water supply and water quality. City of Rochester Communications personnel responded with an emailed statement. How are the water plant staff trained to deal with various threats to the water supply?
Rochester: Staff members of the City of Rochester’s Water Bureau are responsible for the operation of the City’s water system. Part of their duty is to conduct daily inspections at each of the City’s three reservoirs (Rush, Highland and Cobbs Hill Parks). This includes walking the perimeter of the reservoirs and documenting water fowl, wildlife and any unusual objects on the perimeter or in the water near the shoreline. Subsurface visibility varies with weather, glare and wave action. Team members also inspect the outlet screens, cleaning as needed. The standard operating procedure for all occurrences that pose as a threat to the water supply is to immediately contact City security and a supervisor. What are the steps taken to protect the public when the security has been breached?
Rochester: The City of Rochester has the ability to immediately shut down the reservoir by opening a bypass valve and stopping flow from the reservoirs. The City also has a Water Supply Emergency Response Plan, which includes procedures on how to address occurrences of contamination and threats to the city water system. The confidential document is filed with the Monroe County Department of Health and is restricted from public use. What is involved in getting the compromised reservoir back on line?
Rochester:As of 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, the City of Rochester began draining the Highland Park Reservoir. This action will likely take more than a month to complete at which point the reservoir will be sanitized and refilled. Then, the water supply is tested and approved by the Monroe County Department of Health. The City routinely drains and cleans its reservoirs to continue providing the citizens of Rochester award-winning drinking water.

Drinking Water Facility Profile: Rochester City
EPA Status: No violations
Owner: local government
Location: Rochester, NY
County: Monroe
Watershed: Genesee River
Active Permit: NY2704518
System Type: community water system
Population Served: 214000
Source: surface water
From the 2022 Annual Water Quality report, "Since 1876, Rochester residents have relied upon Hemlock Lake, with Canadice Lake added in 1919, for their drinking water supply. The City also purchases water from MCWA’s Shoremont Treatment Plant on Lake Ontario. (MCWA water quality information is available at The City’s Hemlock Water Filtration Plant is a direct filtration plant with a capacity of 48 million gallons per day and employs processes involving pH adjustment, coagulation, filtration, disinfection and fluoridation.
Distribution: Water treated at the Hemlock Filtration Plant flows to the city by gravity through three large pipelines. Along the way, water is sold wholesale to water districts in the Town and Village of Lima, LCW&SA and MCWA. The treated water is stored in the City’s three reservoirs—Rush Reservoir, Cobbs Hill Reservoir and Highland Park Reservoir. It is disinfected again as it exits each reservoir and enters a complex grid (over 550 miles) of water mains that distribute the water to city customers.

Capacity: The average daily production at the Hemlock Water Filtration Plant was 36.2 million gallons per day.
Contact: David Rowley tel 585-428-7436

Latest Compliance Inspection: Site visit, December 1, 2022 (State), Sanitary Survey, partial Dec 18, 2019
No deficiencies noted

The following information gathered from federal EPA pertains to the quarter ending September 30, 2023 (data last refreshed on EPA database Jan 9, 2024)

Non-compliant inspections

(of the previous 12 quarters)

with Significant Violations

(of the previous 12 quarters)


Enforcement Actions

(last 5 yrs)


Enforcement Actions

(last 5 years)

0 out of 12

0 out of 12



No Violations

*Note that drinking water information provided on this site is aggregated from the federal EPA database, state resources and local government sources where available.
EPA publishes violation and enforcement data quarterly, based on the inspection reports of the previous quarter. Water systems, states and EPA take up to three months to verify this data is accurate and complete. Specific questions about your local water supply should be directed to the facility.
The EPA safe drinking water facilities data available to the public presents what is known to the government based upon the most recently available information for more than one million regulated facilities. EPA and states inspect a percentage of facilities each year, but many facilities, particularly smaller ones, may not have received a recent inspection. It is possible that facilities do have violations that have not yet been discovered, thus are shown as compliant in the system.
EPA cannot positively state that facilities without violations shown in ECHO are necessarily fully compliant with environmental laws. Additionally, some violations at smaller facilities do not need to be reported from the states to EPA. If ECHO shows a recent inspection and the facility is shown with no violations identified, users of the ECHO site can be more confident that the facility is in compliance with federal programs.
The compliance status of smaller facilities that have not had recent inspections or review by EPA or the states may be unknown or only available via state data systems.

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