Water Filtration

The Frank Clark Water Filtration Facility – A Brief History

The very first public water supply for The City of Rome (aside from town wells), came to fruition just 2 years after its incorporation. From 1872 through 1909, the water was extracted from the Mohawk River by use of a paddle wheel driven pump.  Today there are just a few remnants of this pumping station, still located behind Olney’s Flowerpot on Upper N. James Street, visible from the Penny Street Bridge.  Water driven pumps filled an eight-million-gallon reservoir located just south of Madison Street (between N. James St. and Rosenberg Rd.).  The reservoir was filled in long ago, but the old brick valve house is still standing to this day.  After being decommissioned in 1910, this reservoir was used as a public swimming pool and ice rink for more than 40 years before being filled in.

At the turn of the century, with the city rapidly expanding and recurring droughts limiting flow of the Mohawk, Rome needed to expand its water supply.  The city decided to utilize a source located much farther north, on the East branch of Fish Creek.  As a result, Kessinger Dam was built.  The Dam was named after Albert R. Kessinger, former Mayor of The City of Rome from 1906-1912.  The new dam and impoundment diverted water from the creek into a 1-mile-long underground tunnel (dug entirely by hand through slate rock) that connected to a 36-inch pipe/aqueduct.  This 7-mile-long conduit was used to fill Rome’s new 15-million-gallon reservoir located on Stokes-Lee Center Road.  The city began its first “Water Treatment” in 1917, using chlorine as its primary disinfectant.  In 1933, ammonia was introduced along with chlorine to create “Chloramines” which helped inhibit bacteria growth in the distribution system.

In 1937, the ever-growing City of Rome needed to expand its water system once again. As a result, a 50-million-gallon reservoir was built across the road from the existing 15-million-gallon reservoir.  The two reservoirs were connected and are still in use today.  Water distribution was also expanded, by adding a second 30-inch water main to feed the city.

Fast forward to 1957 with the city still expanding, Rome acquires nearly 1,000 acres of land in Lewis County.  This land would be used to create a watershed with the ability to increase the water flow to the reservoirs.  At this time, the city erected Boyd Dam in Swancott Mills.  The dam was named after the Boyd family, who were the primary caretakers of Kessinger Dam for over 45 years.  Boyd dam impounds “Lake Tagasoke”, a 1.4-billion-gallon, 400 acre reservoir.  Tagasoke is a Native American word for “meeting of the waters”.  This project was completed in 1959 and cost the city just over two million dollars.

By 1964, the City’s original 36” aqueduct was in disrepair and required replacement.  A new 48-inch pipe was installed.  The old line was sealed off and left in place.  At the same time, a small treatment plant was built with newer dependable disinfection equipment, and also housed a new laboratory for water testing.  By the early 1970’s, it became clear that new regulations from the NYS Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation would soon require changes to ALL water systems. However, in late 1974, the City of Rome was slingshotted into scrutiny after a Giardiasis outbreak resulted in over 4800 suspected cases of Giardia in Rome (over 10% of the population at that time).  After the outbreak, the NYS Department of Health pushed the city to abandon its use of Chloramines, and begin disinfecting with only chlorine gas.  A pre-chlorination system was installed near the start of the 48” Conduit, and the water was re-chlorinated before entering the distribution system at Stokes.  The city also began engineering a new state of the art treatment facility, which would include filtration.

After several years of engineering and pilot-plant studies, the City of Rome was finally able to break ground on its new filtration plant.  The plant went online in 1987, and was dedicated as the “Frank Clark Water Filtration Facility”.  Frank Clark was the Engineer for The City of Rome who spearheaded the project until his retirement in 1985. Mr. Clark also founded the Rome Historical Society, as well as the Rome Sports Hall of Fame.

The new facility was highlighted as not only the first of its kind on the east coast, but also the largest in the United States.  The treatment process featured the addition of a coagulant to the raw water to create “floc”.  This causes the smaller contaminants in raw water to stick together and create large particles. The water then passes through up-flow clarifiers and multi-media filters to remove contaminants.

Plant upgrades over the years included an additional filter, installation of a flocculation/sedimentation basin to increase filter efficiency and extend run time, and rehabilitation of all 9 filter units. The original hand dug tunnel was resurfaced with shot-crete, and an Ultra-Violet disinfection facility was added to the process.

Today, The Frank Clark Water Filtration Facility operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  It is staffed by a Chief Operator, Assistant Chief Operator, and eight shift operators.  All of whom are certified by the State of New York Department of Health in water treatment and testing.  The plant also has its own in-house maintenance department.  Most of the year, the plant processes between 8 and 12 million gallons of water per day, depending on the needs of the City, and the surrounding municipalities that also purchase water from Rome.  This includes the Town of Lee, Floyd, Stanwix Westmoreland, parts of Westernville, Griffiss Technology Park, Mohawk Correctional Facility, and will soon include the Town of Verona.

Additional Information Links:

Lead and Copper Sampling

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report 2023

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