Drinking Water Safety


Dear Neighbor,  Mayor Lovely A. Warren 

Our source of fresh drinking water is one of the many benefits of living in Rochester. For more than 140 years, we have preserved the pristine, natural environments of Hemlock and Canadice lakes to ensure the quality of our city’s water supply.  

We also enjoy a mutually beneficial water-sharing agreement with the Monroe County Water Authority which saves money for both city and county water users. The result is a truly exceptional supply of water that is safe and affordable, which adds to our quality of life and makes Rochester an attractive place to do business.  

If your family is like mine, you were alarmed at the recent water quality concerns nationally. As a mother, I too am very concerned about the safety of the drinking water here in Rochester and that’s why I asked our Water Bureau to provide this information about Rochester’s drinking water.  

Thank you,
Mayor Lovely A. Warren

Is there lead in my water?

Lead is not found in the lake waters that supply Rochester’s drinking water. Nonetheless, low levels of lead may sometimes be found in the water at a customer’s tap. Test results in Rochester for lead have consistently been well below the safety limits set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

How can I further reduce lead levels in drinking water?

By following a few simple steps, you can further reduce lead levels in your drinking water:

  1. When drawing water for drinking or cooking purposes, use only cold water, especially when preparing baby formula. It takes slightly longer to heat the cold water, but the water will be of higher quality.
  2. Anytime water is not used for several hours, “flush” your cold water pipes by running the water until it becomes as cold as it will get.

Where does the lead in water come from?

The lead-bearing plumbing materials found in some buried water service pipes and inside homes may be sources of the lead. Examples of these materials are: lead pipe service lines, lead solder and brass faucets and fixtures. Lead service lines (the pipe from your house to the street) are common in many older cities, including Rochester.

When water is in contact with lead-containing material, lead can dissolve into the water. The amount of lead is affected by the type and age of the lead-bearing material, water temperature, water hardness or alkalinity and the length of time the water is in contact with the material.

 Is lead in water regulated?

In 1992, the EPA established the Lead and Copper Rule. The Rule set “action limits” of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead and 1300 ppb for copper. Special treatment requirements must be initiated if copper or lead concentrations are not below these limits in 90% of sites tested. Test results in Rochester for lead have consistently been below the action limit set by the EPA.

What are the City's procedures for checking water quality?

Rochester’s water system is, and always has been in compliance with the EPA standard for lead in drinking water. We test factors that affect water corrosiveness on a daily basis and collect samples for lead at customer taps as required by the EPA. If you are interested in knowing the lead level at your tap, the City will provide you with guidance on getting a sample tested. A lead test will generally take 2-3 weeks to complete. When the test is completed, laboratory staff are available to discuss the results with you.

Our goal is to maintain your trust by providing excellent water and service. 

Why is lead a concern?

The harmful health effects of lead ingestion have been well documented. Fetuses, infants and young children show the greatest sensitivity to lead’s harmful influence. The effects in children include altered physical and mental development, interference with growth, deficits in IQ, attention span and hearing. In adults, excessive lead intake can result in increased blood pressure.

Where does lead exposure primarily occur?

Lead has many sources in our environment, but the primary source of exposure is from deteriorating lead-based paint from homes built before 1978. Childhood lead poisoning is nearly always the result of ingesting lead dust and the cause is nearly always because of deteriorating lead-based paint in the home.

If you suspect you may have lead paint in your home

You can make sure your house or apartment is safe from lead hazards by scheduling a FREE lead inspection with the City by calling (585) 428-6520. Additional information is available from the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning: www.letsmakeleadhistory.org 

For assistance and more information

Call our Hemlock Water Treatment Plant at (585) 428-6680, the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or visit the EPA website: www.epa.gov/safewater/lead 

Find our Annual Water Quality Report at: www.cityofrochester.gov/waterquality 


Water Supply