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Boil water advisory continues into the weekend as Rochester prepares for storm

Bello and officials-12-22-22.jpg
Randy Gorbman
Rochester officials say a boil water advisory due to Wednesday's major water main break will likely continue into Saturday or even Sunday.

Repair work continues on a major water main break that happened Wednesday evening on Rochester’s southwest side on Favor Street, not far from West Main and Ford streets.

A 3-foot-wide water main, originally installed in 1899, broke, spewing thousands of gallons of water into streets and houses in that neighborhood.

The water pressure has mostly been restored, but a boil water advisory continues in a wide section of the city, mostly on the west side but also along parts of East Avenue and other streets.

Richard Perrin, commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Services, said if your home is in the affected area, you’ll need to keep boiling your drinking water for a while longer.

“Provided that the samples turn out well, we should be able to get the first samples done if we can get them done around noon tomorrow (Friday), we’re looking at probably late December 24, or early December 25, provided again — and I’m going to reiterate that all the samples come out clean — we’ll be able to lift the boil advisory,” Perrin said.

Health officials advise those affected to bring tap water to a rolling boil, boil it for one minute, and cool before using, or use bottled water certified for sale by the New York State Department of Health. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth, and preparing food until further notice.

Officials said the break affected water pressure in the water main, which increases the chance that untreated water and harmful microbes can enter the water supply.

Police said that Ford Street, between West Main and Troup streets, is expected to be closed to vehicular traffic for most of Thursday. They asked drivers to avoid that area.

The city, county and state agencies have issued a boil water advisory for people in the affected area (see map and streets affected below):

map of boil water area, which is primarly east of Lee Road, south of Ridge Rd West, west of the Genesee River, north of Chili Ave/Arnett Blvd, Flint St, McLean St. On the other side of the Genesse, the boil water area is west of S and N Goodman St, south of University Ave, and north of Linden St and McLean St.
Photo provided
City of Rochester
A map of the boil water area in Rochester, NY after a water main burst on Dec. 21, 2022.

  • Genesee River to Flint Street
  • Flint Street to Genesee Street
  • Genesee Street to Arnett Boulevard
  • Arnett Boulevard to Westfield Street
  • Westfield Street to Chili Avenue
  • Chili Avenue to Lee Road
  • Lee Road to NYS Route 104
  • NYS Route 104 to Genesee River
  • Genesee River to Inner Loop
  • Inner Loop to University Avenue
  • University Avenue to North/South Goodman Street
  • South Goodman Street to Linden Street
  • Linden Street to Mount Hope Avenue
  • Mount Hope Avenue to McLean Street
  • McLean Street to Genesee River

The water problems also forced the closing of Rochester city schools on Thursday, and interim Superintendent Carmine Peluso said they will close schools again on Friday because of both the water situation and a powerful winter storm that is expected to see temperatures plummet and cause a "flash freeze" along with some lake effect snow.

Mayor Malik Evans said that as of Thursday, the city has been partnering with the school district and Foodlink to make sure that free lunches are available to city school students both Thursday and Friday at city R-Centers.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said a number of suburban school superintendents have indicated they will also close schools on Friday because of the winter storm. Bello declared a 'State of Emergency' to allow for the closing of county offices including the County Clerk's office.

Evans on Thursday also declared a state of emergency, which he said gives him "the ability to be able to do things that are necessary in order to make sure that we are able to protect the residents of the city.”

Evans referred to the impending storm — a "once-in-a-lifetime" event as he has heard it described — and said it has to be taken seriously.

City residents and business owners with questions about R-Center hours or the boil water advisory, or issues with their water supply should call 311. You can also get information online at

The mayor also used Thursday's news conference at the county emergency operations center to point out how much older infrastructure — especially in terms of equipment like water pipes — is in the city. He mentioned complaints about the ongoing work on pipes underneath State Street.

Evans hopes for federal funding for projects like replacing aging water mains.

“You have to invest in infrastructure," Evans said. "I know people complain about what's going on, on State Street. But guess what we're doing (there), we're replacing water mains that are almost that exact same age.”

Bello and Evans both said they are working together to coordinate the response to the storm, which is expected to bring in high winds, perhaps topping 60 mph on Friday and Saturday, and rapidly falling temperatures.

Bello said he has been in touch with RG&E and National Grid, and they’ve indicated that customers who lose power during the storm potentially could be without power for an extended period of time.

“Linemen can’t begin working to restore that lost power until the winds die down and the storm leaves,” Bello said. “Again, that makes it particularly challenging because the duration of the storm impacts the ability to get those lines back up and the power moving.”

Bello said that all Monroe County office buildings will be closed to the public and non-essential employees on Friday, including the Department of Motor Vehicles.

He also encouraged county residents to stay off the roads if they can on Friday to give highway crews the space to do their work treating and clearing roadways. Meteorologist Josh Nichols said that, “This is a multi-faceted winter storm; after the rain comes the wind, the flash freeze, and of course the lake effect snow.” Nichols said accumulations in the immediate Rochester area, such as downtown in the city, may only see a small accumulation of snow, but amounts to the west will be much higher. And whatever does fall, he noted, will be blown around by high winds, creating visibility problems for drivers.

The NYS Thruway Authority said that superhighway will have a commercial vehicle ban in effect from exit 46 in Henrietta to the Pennsylvania line and on I-190, beginning at 6:00 a.m. Friday until further notice.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.