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A neighborhood needed clean water. Swiftwater Brewing opened its tap

Swiftwater Brewing on Mt. Hope Avenue.
Gino Fanelli
Swiftwater Brewing on Mt. Hope Avenue.

After a body was discovered in the Highland Park reservoir Tuesday, residents across a large swath of Rochester were asked to bust out their pots and boil water as a precaution as the city and county continued testing the water.

It just so happened that Swiftwater Brewing had a really, really big pot.

The Mt. Hope Avenue brewery is squarely within the area subject to the boil water advisory. Once the advisory was issued, owner Andy Cook pivoted one of his 600-gallon tanks — typically used to boil wort, the unfermented base of beer, during the brewing process — to provide free boiled water to the public.

People were free to come and take what they needed from a keg tap at the rear of the brewery.

Swiftwater has been boiling water in the tank for 15 minutes. The city recommended boiling water for a minute before use. The water is also pressurized using carbon dioxide in the brewery’s brite tank, making it somewhat “seltzery,” Cook said.

“Our normal brewing process takes water, boils it, and cools it, so we basically just followed the same procedure,” Cook said.

This isn’t the first time Swiftwater stepped up during a boil water advisory. In late December 2022, the brewery provided free sanitized water to the public after a water main break on Favor Street.

Cook said he had in mind facilities housing animals and other businesses that may have difficulty sanitizing large quantities of water.

“For us, I feel like it’s something we can do easily to help out,” Cook said. “I think it’s a good community service to give back to our city, our neighborhood.”

The boil water advisory was still in effect Wednesday morning. While initial testing Tuesday showed no contaminants, Mayor Malik Evans said the city and county decided to issue the advisory out of “an abundance of caution.”

The test for coliform bacteria takes about 16 to 24 hours to complete. The advisory is expected to be lifted Wednesday, pending the results of those tests.

The body found in the reservoir was described by officials as a male adult. The person’s identity, cause of death, or how long he had been in the water has yet to be determined.

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.