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City of Rochester officials address water quality standards at Highland Park Reservoir

todayMarch 20, 2024 2

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A boil water advisory remains in effect for much of the Westside of Rochester after a body was discovered inside the Highland Park Reservoir Tuesday morning.

Due to the water emergency, questions about whether Rochester has complied with federal safe drinking water requirements have surfaced. Rich Perrin, the City’s Commissioner for the Department of Environmental Services, says the city is in compliance with all state and federal regulations, actually meeting and exceeding those.

Even with taking the Highland Reservoir off operations entirely, there’s about five days worth of treated water between the other two reservoirs, Perrin says, which is also chlorinated.

There are also several filters at the reservoir to keep out other objects, such as leaves and debris.

“The water you’re getting is being treated at multiple points both before it’s brought up here through very clean conduit to distribution means and the like. At the same time we’re treating it when it’s in the reservoir, as well, before it makes its way into taps and faucets,” says Perrin.

A 2005 EPA safety guideline required Rochester to cover highland and the city’s other two reservoirs Cobb’s Hill and Rush, or use ultraviolet rays to treat the water supply before it reaches homes and businesses. Collectively decided back then, the UV treatment means there would be *no cover. It’s a multi-million dollar project that’s been talked about for years. Following mayoral action in 2011, the City eventually received approval to move the deadline to install UV treatment for Cobbs Hill and Highland Park Reservoirs until December 31 of this year. There has also been recent action about this matter.

“At this point and time that is the reason for doing this study that was authorized by City Council in February of this year — just last month, that will kick off in the next 30 to 60 days — to update all of this as changes have been made to the Lead and Copper Rule revisions, and again, what is the interplay of those with the LT2 compliance,” says Perrin.

He notes there are several moving parts behind the scenes when it comes to both federal and state regulations as it relates to water quality, including the lead and copper rule revision, with Rochester pledging to be lead free by 2030. And others related to enhancements of how the water needs to be treated.

“We have basically two directives that are coming from the federal government as it relates to being able to ensure the integrity of our public water. We are working through how we can best align those to ensure that we, again, first and foremost provide safe, reliable drinking water but also meet other community desires and wants as part of that process,” Perrin says.

EPA officials tell News 8 the State’s Department of Heath oversees this timeline for Rochester’s projects. The NYSDOH sent News 8 this statement in an email response:

The Department offers its condolences to the family of the deceased individual found in the Highland Reservoir.

The New York State Department of Health through local health departments regulates public drinking water systems throughout the state. We are in active communication with the Monroe County Health Department, and we will work closely with them to determine appropriate next steps and evaluate if the City of Rochester is in violation of any sanitary code requirements. At this time, it is important for law enforcement to conduct and complete any necessary investigations.

The City of Rochester is under a bilateral compliance agreement with the New York State Department of Health and the Monroe County Health Department to comply with the regulatory requirements that address uncovered treated water storage facilities. As part of this agreement, the City of Rochester conducts enhanced monitoring for pathogens, including monitoring for total coliform bacteria, E. Coli, Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

The Department of Health has reviewed the City of Rochester’s data from past sampling rounds, in conjunction with the Monroe County Department of Health, and there is no indication of contamination. However, out of an abundance of caution, we advise residents to comply with the Boil Water Advisory until lifted.

New York State laws and regulations require public water systems that serve populations greater than 3,300 people to have a vulnerability assessment and emergency response plan which includes an evaluation of vulnerability to terrorist attack. The City of Rochester has completed the documents and updates as required, and is in compliance with these regulatory requirements.

​ ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A boil water advisory remains in effect for much of the Westside of Rochester after a body was discovered inside the Highland Park Reservoir Tuesday morning.

Due to the water emergency, questions about whether Rochester has complied with federal safe drinking water requirements have surfaced. Rich Perrin, the City’s Commissioner for the Department of Environmental Services, says the city is in compliance with all state and federal regulations, actually meeting and exceeding those.

Even with taking the Highland Reservoir off operations entirely, there’s about five days worth of treated water between the other two reservoirs, Perrin says, which is also chlorinated.

There are also several filters at the reservoir to keep out other objects, such as leaves and debris.

“The water you’re getting is being treated at multiple points both before it’s brought up here through very clean conduit to distribution means and the like. At the same time we’re treating it when it’s in the reservoir, as well, before it makes its way into taps and faucets,” says Perrin.

A 2005 EPA safety guideline required Rochester to cover highland and the city’s other two reservoirs Cobb’s Hill and Rush, or use ultraviolet rays to treat the water supply before it reaches homes and businesses. Collectively decided back then, the UV treatment means there would be *no cover. It’s a multi-million dollar project that’s been talked about for years. Following mayoral action in 2011, the City eventually received approval to move the deadline to install UV treatment for Cobbs Hill and Highland Park Reservoirs until December 31 of this year. There has also been recent action about this matter.

“At this point and time that is the reason for doing this study that was authorized by City Council in February of this year — just last month, that will kick off in the next 30 to 60 days — to update all of this as changes have been made to the Lead and Copper Rule revisions, and again, what is the interplay of those with the LT2 compliance,” says Perrin.

He notes there are several moving parts behind the scenes when it comes to both federal and state regulations as it relates to water quality, including the lead and copper rule revision, with Rochester pledging to be lead free by 2030. And others related to enhancements of how the water needs to be treated.

“We have basically two directives that are coming from the federal government as it relates to being able to ensure the integrity of our public water. We are working through how we can best align those to ensure that we, again, first and foremost provide safe, reliable drinking water but also meet other community desires and wants as part of that process,” Perrin says.

EPA officials tell News 8 the State’s Department of Heath oversees this timeline for Rochester’s projects. The NYSDOH sent News 8 this statement in an email response:

The Department offers its condolences to the family of the deceased individual found in the Highland Reservoir.

The New York State Department of Health through local health departments regulates public drinking water systems throughout the state. We are in active communication with the Monroe County Health Department, and we will work closely with them to determine appropriate next steps and evaluate if the City of Rochester is in violation of any sanitary code requirements. At this time, it is important for law enforcement to conduct and complete any necessary investigations.

The City of Rochester is under a bilateral compliance agreement with the New York State Department of Health and the Monroe County Health Department to comply with the regulatory requirements that address uncovered treated water storage facilities. As part of this agreement, the City of Rochester conducts enhanced monitoring for pathogens, including monitoring for total coliform bacteria, E. Coli, Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

The Department of Health has reviewed the City of Rochester’s data from past sampling rounds, in conjunction with the Monroe County Department of Health, and there is no indication of contamination. However, out of an abundance of caution, we advise residents to comply with the Boil Water Advisory until lifted.

New York State laws and regulations require public water systems that serve populations greater than 3,300 people to have a vulnerability assessment and emergency response plan which includes an evaluation of vulnerability to terrorist attack. The City of Rochester has completed the documents and updates as required, and is in compliance with these regulatory requirements. Read More RochesterRochesterFirst  

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