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Boil water advisory has been lifted for the city of Rochester

Highland Park reservoir and gate house is shown at sunset.
Brian Sharp
Highland Park reservoir and gate house.

UPDATE: As of early Thursday morning, the city of Rochester announced that the boil water advisory affecting parts of Rochester has been lifted. 

Officials say water quality tests have confirmed the safety of the water supply. Draining, cleaning and refilling of the Highland Park Reservoir will continue through the next few months.

Mayor Malik Evans and other officials are holding an 8:00 a.m. news conference on Thursday about the water situation and the investigation. Check back at for updates.

Previous story:

The city of Rochester issued a boil water notice Tuesday after the discovery of a dead body in the Highland Park reservoir.

The notice spans the downtown area and portions of the city’s west side. Water from the reservoir was immediately diverted following the discovery of the body. A full draining and sanitation of the reservoir will be carried out over the next several weeks.

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People living in the affected areas are advised to bring water to a rolling boil for one minute and allow it to cool before drinking, brushing teeth, or preparing food.

“This is a very, very sad situation,” Mayor Malik Evans said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “What compounds ...that is that this happened near our water supply. It’s important that we exercise an abundance of caution.”

On Tuesday evening, the Rochester City School District announced that all RCSD schools and offices will be closed on Wednesday, March 20. All school-related activities are also canceled. Rochester City School District staff are not expected to report.

In response to the abrupt change, Recreation Centers in the city have adjusted hours. Most are open on Wednesday from noon until 7 p.m. But two of them open earlier. The Jackson R Center on North Clinton opens at 8 a.m. and the Gantt R Center on North Street opens at 10 a.m..

 Rec centers will provide children with bottled water, a snack, and dinner.

Maintenance workers discovered the body of an adult male in the water during a routine walkaround of the reservoir. The Monroe County Medical Examiner has yet to release any identification or other information.

The body was discovered around 8 a.m. Tuesday. The boil water advisory was issued just before 1 p.m. When asked about the delay, Evans said the notice was issued after advisement from Monroe County.

“There wasn’t that much of a delay,” Evans said. “As soon as we found out, we issued this press conference.”

Highland Park reservoir is the smallest of three reservoirs that feed the city, with the other two in Cobbs Hill and the town of Rush. The city also can buy water from the Monroe County Water Authority, if needed.

The advisory remains in effect until further notice.

Initial testing of the water found no evidence of any contamination.

Remaining tests, specifically for coliform bacteria contamination, could take 16-24 hours, said Starr O’Neil, manager of environmental health for the Monroe County Department of Health.

“We can’t say, ‘Yes, it’s absolutely clean,’” O’Neil said. “We think so with all of the initial tests, but we have to make sure that the public is safe.”

Gino Fanelli is an investigative reporter who also covers City Hall. He joined the staff in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.