The Water Filtration Plant- A short history
The very first water supply for Rome came from the Mohawk River starting in 1872 until 1909. The water was extracted from the river by use of a paddle wheel power driven pump. There are just a few remains of this building located behind Olney’s Flowerpot and is visible from the Penny Street Bridge. The water was pumped to a 7 million gallon reservoir that was located on the corner of Madison St. and Black River Blvd. at the time. The area is just behind Papa Rick’s Ice Cream Stand. The old brick building still standing there is the old pump house.
Then in 1909 the City of Rome wanted to expand its water supply and get it from the east Branch of Fish Creek. At that time Kessinger Dam was built on the Fish Creek and water was diverted into a 1 mile long rock tunnel all dug out by hand through slate rock. The coal carts rail tracks are still present in the tunnel today. At the end of the tunnel there is a formed up concrete junction chamber that connected to a 36 inch pipe that goes 7 miles to the 15 million gallon reservoir that is still in use today.
In 1937 the City of Rome wanted to expand its water system once again. At this time they built a 50 million gallon reservoir across from the 15 million gallon reservoir. Water lines were also expanded by adding another 36 inch water line that fed into the city.
In 1957, the City then bought land in Lewis Country to create a water shed that would increase the water capacity to the plant. Boyd Dam was then built. It has a capacity to hold 1.5 billion gallons of water. This project was completed in 1959 at a cost of two million dollars.
In 1964 the city then found a need to increase the flow of the water supply from Kessinger Dam to the reservoirs. A 48 inch pipe was installed and the 36 inch pipe was sealed off. At the same time a small building was built that would feed chlorine and ammonia to the water for disinfection purposes.
Then in 1985 water regulations for safe drinking water increased and the City of Rome broke ground for a state of the art water filtration plant using 8 filters with upflow clarifiers and filter media filtration. The water plant went on line in 1987 and was the first type of this kind on the east coast and was the biggest at the time in the United States. Part of this new process included adding chemicals to the treatment process to help filter out dirt particles and organic material. The plant was dedicated as the Frank Clark Water Filtration Facility on August 1987.
Today the Water Plant operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a years providing clean water that exceeds state requirements for safe drinking water. It is staffed by a chief operator and 8 shift operators, all certified by the State of New York Department of Health in water treatment and testing. It is maintained by Rob Samuels, Water Supply Maintenance Supervisor and a maintenance man and one laborer. The water plant processes between 9 and 16 million gallons of water a day depending on the needs of the city and the people that by water from us, Lee, Floyd, Westmoreland, Stanwix and parts of Westernville.