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Bureau of Water

Geoff Gugel
Geoff Gugel, Director of Water Bureau

What We Do

Since 1876, the Rochester Water Bureau has been delivering quality drinking water from Hemlock and Canadice Finger Lakes, located 28 miles south of the City of Rochester. In 2013, the City of Rochester was voted as having the best tasting water in New York State. The Water Bureau maintains three finished water storage reservoirs having a combined capacity of 230 million gallons, one located in the town of Rush NY and the other two at beautiful and historic Highland and Cobbs Hill Parks in the City. The Water Bureau also operates the Holly system, which is the last municipal, pumped, fire protection system still operating in North America.

On a yearly average, the City’s Hemlock Lake Filtration Plant produces 37 million gallons of water each day, which is delivered to the residents and businesses in the City of Rochester and wholesaled to the Monroe County Water Authority, the Town of Livonia, Livingston County Water & Sewer Authority and the Town of Lima. The Water Bureau also maintains approximately 75 miles of water transmission conduits from Hemlock to Rochester, 600 miles of distribution mains, 7,600 fire hydrants, 57,800 water meters and 16,700 water valves.

Water Billing

For payment options, frequently asked questions, and more: visit the water billing website, call 311, or if outside of the city, call (585) 428-5990

Water Works History

Drinking Water Safety

Annual Water Quality Report

Water Quality Testing

Helpful Documents for Contractors

Bureau Organization

The Director’s Office includes the Administrative Services unit and Materials, Fleet, and Facilities Management unit. Responsibilities of the Administrative Services unit include budget development and oversight, billing reconciliation, personnel management, and policy development. The Materials, Fleet, and Facilities Management unit is responsible for procuring Water Bureau equipment, parts, supplies, and inventory. This unit also provides warehousing and inventory management services for the City’s Street Lighting, Recreation, Parks Operation, Parking Enforcement, Animal Services, and Cemeteries divisions and coordinates the daily use and maintenance of the seven-acre complex and 78,000-square-foot Water Operation Center.

The Engineering Division implements the capital program through design, plan review, and construction inspection services. It maintains and updates the official records of all water facilities. Engineering consists of three units, Design, Field, and Maps and Records. Design engineering performs hydraulic testing of the water system, develops specifications and contract documents, and develops and reviews plans for water system repairs and improvements, including the coordination of water main work with street improvement projects. Field engineering inspects water construction projects to assure compliance with specifications, and records construction data for customer and office use. Maps and Records is responsible for maintaining record mapping and issuing new water service permits and hydrant use permits.

The Upland Operations Division includes the Water Production and Treatment unit and the Supply and Maintenance unit. Water Production and Treatment monitors the water quality and flow while operating and maintaining the chemical treatment facilities for the system. This includes maintaining the reservoirs at Rush, Cobbs Hill, and Highland Park, and operating the Hemlock Water Filtration Plant. The water Supply and Maintenance unit maintains the 75 miles of upland water conduits from Hemlock Lake to the City reservoir structures. 

The Division also operates and maintains the Holly Pump Station, a dedicated High-Pressure Fire System that dates back to 1874. The system resides primarily in the Central Business District consisting of over 21 miles of distribution water mains, mainline valves, and 354 hydrants all serving 208 commercial customers.

The Division has recently contracted with the Town of Canadice to operate and maintain the newly created Water District No. 1 which extends from the Canadice/Richmond Town line southerly along the west side of Honeoye Lake to Lakes End Lane. The system consists of over 6 miles of water main, one pump station, an elevated storage tank, and a re-chlorination facility all providing water to approximately 400 households.
The Water Distribution Division is comprised of five units (Dispatch, Grid Maintenance, Hydraulic Maintenance, Meter Services, and Technical Support) that are responsible for maintaining the water system within the City of Rochester, including all water mains, water services, valves, fire hydrants and water meters.

Dispatch provides immediate response to all water system emergencies on a 24 hour basis. It also keeps records of work performed in the distribution system on a daily basis. Jobs and information regarding the water system is relayed to field personal via two-way radio and telephone.

Grid Maintenance maintains and repairs all water mains, fire hydrants, services, and valves within the distribution system, responding to water emergencies on a 24 hour basis to insure that quality service is maintained with minimal service disruption.

Hydraulic Maintenance is responsible for the preventative maintenance of the water distribution system. It does this through aggressive programs which include leak location, water waste surveys, water main flushing, and valve exercising.  This unit works proactively to insure that water system operational deficiencies are quickly identified and water system leaks are found before they can cause costly damage to roads and property within the City.

Meter Services is responsible for maintaining the metering system for residential, commercial, and municipal customers. It does this through an aggressive repair and replacement program which insures that our meters are well maintained and are running accurately. A multi-year initiative to replace all meters with new radio read meters is expected to be completed by 2023. These new meters allow for more accurate and faster collection of water usage readings and provide us with the capability of identifying and alerting customers of unusually high usage due to leaks in the customer’s plumbing. This unit also manages the City’s backflow prevention program which protects the water system from contamination or pollution.

Technical Support marks locations of City owned underground water mains and services and street lighting wire conduits to protect them from being damaged by contractors and other utilities digging within the City. This unit also responds to planned and emergency requests that require operating valves to shut water mains, it responds to service calls received from the Dispatch unit, and prepares work orders for repairing and replacing deficient water system components.