Water Filtration

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 it is visible from the Penny Street Bridge. The water was pumped to a seven 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 cart’s 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 seven 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 County to create a watershed 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 eight filters with upflow clarifiers and filter media filtration. The water plant went online 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.

In 2015-2016 the filters at the filtration plant were rehabilitated and the tunnel from Kessinger Dam was also rehabbed at the same time. In 2019 the UV Plant was put online to meet new and upcoming water standards. Both of these upgrades will help ensure safe drinking water for the city well into the future.

Today the Water Plant operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, providing clean water that exceeds state requirements for safe drinking water. It is staffed by a chief operator and eight shift operators, all certified by the State of New York Department of Health in water treatment and testing. It is maintained by the Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator and an Assistant Chief. 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 buy water from us in Lee, Floyd, Westmoreland, Stanwix and parts of Westernville.

Additional Information Links:

Lead and Copper Sampling

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2022

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2021

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2020

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2019

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2018

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2017

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2016

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2015

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2014

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2013

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2012

Water Filtration Contact Information:


Tim Dombrowski
Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator
(315) 339-7777 x2
Email: Tim Dombrowski
Jon Hill
Assistant Chief
(315) 339-7777 x3
Email: Jon Hill