Water Division

September 11, 2018
Flushing of BPU water mains begins with a pre-flush in Falconer at 2 p.m. October 5. The entire Village of Falconer will be flushed beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday, October 6, overnight into Sunday, October 7, until the Village is flushed. Beginning on Monday, October 8, flushing will take place through Friday, October 12; and then from Monday, October 15, through Wednesday, October 17. Please refer to our home page for daily flushing areas indicated on maps.

Click for Details

Plumbing Information

The Jamestown Office of the Plumbing Inspector is housed within the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. The office may be reached at (716)661-1654 from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., weekdays.

The links below contain license applications for Master Plumber, Journeyman Plumber and Apprentice Plumber; the City of Jamestown Plumbing Code and the Plumbing Permit Application.

Plumbing: Application for Apprentice License

Plumbing: Application Journeyman License

Plumbing: Master Plumber's Application

City of Jamestown Plumbing Code

Plumbing Permit Application

For questions or further information or to schedule a plumbing inspection, call (716)661-1654. Please contact the office at least 24 hours before your requested inspection time.

Is our water safe to drink? Absolutely!

The Utility's goal is to provide you with high quality, safe, drinking water that exceeds every federal and state standard. As mandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), this Water Quality Report details our water resources, the results of our water tests, and other information. You can count on the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities for "quality on tap." Our results show it!

If you have any questions about this report or your drinking water, please contact BPU Communications Coordinator, Rebecca Robbins, at 716-661-1680. We want you to be informed about your drinking water. If you want to learn more, we urge you to attend any of the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board of Public Utilities. The meetings are held the fourth Tuesday of each month at 12:30 PM in the BPU Board Room at 92 Steele Street. A schedule of the meetings each year is posted on our website under "Board Schedule." We encourage public interest in our community's decisions affecting drinking water.

Water Quality Reports are in PDF format. Click here to download the Reader.

Seasonal Service for Residential and Commercial Customers

We remind customers who will be away from their homes all winter to request water shut-off and even water meter removal before leaving your house.

Winter temperatures in the Jamestown area often reach the frigid level, causing frost in the ground as deep as 51 inches below the surface. Sometimes these temperatures can cause frozen or broken water lines that result in water damage to your home.

If your home will be unoccupied and unheated from fall to spring, we suggest that you call our Customer Service Office at 661-1660 and request a water shut-off and water meter removal appointment. We require that you or a representative be at the house when we come to do the work to verify that all water is stopped. Your home also should be drained by you or a plumber.

The customer will be responsible to pay a reconnection charge upon reconnection of service when you return. In addition, you, the customer, continue to be responsible for payment of the basic service charges during this period of seasonal disconnection.

Ask a trusted friend, neighbor or relative to keep an eye on your home and be available in emergency situations. Give them access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems. Please provide our Customer Service Office with the name and phone number for your local representative, should a concern arise in your home while you are away.

Taking these steps now could help prevent problems when you return to your home after winter.

Bulk Water Service for Contractors

Bulk water is available for purchase at multiple locations in BPU water territory by permit.

To obtain a permit and to discuss your need for bulk water, please call or email the Water Division Engineering Department at (716)661-1606.

When you call, you’ll be asked the following questions:

  • Why do you need water (for example, to fill a pool; to fix a road)?

  • What is the location of your job site?

  • How much water do you estimate you will need?

  • How many days will you need the water (for example, one day or four months)?

The price of your water purchase and the water station you will use depends on these factors.

Existing bulk water customers who have questions about billing may call Water Division Accounting at (716)661-1692.

Frequently Asked Questions about Our Water

1. What is the hardness of the BPU water?
BPU water is described as "moderately hard," measured as 9-10 grams.

2. What is the temperature of BPU water?
BPU water temperatures average between 54-57 degrees Fahrenheit. The average January temperature is 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The average September temperature is 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Some drinking water often looks cloudy when first taken from a faucet and then it clears up. Why is that?
The cloudy water is caused by tiny air bubbles in the water similar to the gas bubbles in beer and carbonated soft drinks. After a while, the bubbles rise to the top and are gone. This type of cloudiness occurs more often in the winter, when the drinking water is cold.

4. Should I install home water treatment equipment?
This is a personal decision. The equipment is not needed to make the water meet federal, state, or provincial drinking water safety standards. In fact, if not properly maintained, the equipment may actually cause water quality problems.

Home treatment units, called point-of-use (POU) systems, can be located in several places in the home: counter top, faucet-mounted, under-sink cold tap, under sink in-line pass, or at the point of entry (POE) into the house.

Treatment units fall into six general categories:

  1. Particulate filters that remove particles, including black manganese particles, of different sizes.

  2. Adsorption filters (most of which are not really filters) usually containing activated carbon (sometimes incorrectly called activated charcoal or just charcoal) that remove chlorine, taste and odor, and organic compounds. Some units are capable of removing chlorine-reaction products and some solvents such as cleaning fluid and pesticides. Microbes do grow in these units (but these usually are not germs), and this fact may be of concern to some. Use of silver-containing activated carbon to prevent the growth of these microbes has not been shown to be uniformly effective or very long lasting, but units that use ultraviolet (UV) light after the adsorption filter, are effective. Most adsorption filters remove very little copper and lead. Certain special filters will remove dissolved lead, but unfortunately, manufacturers' claims are sometimes not accurate, so be cautious and check their claims with independent organizations, as noted at the end of this answer.

  3. Oxidation/filtration systems that will change iron (clear water turning red) or hydrogen sulfide (the rotten-egg odor) into a form where these nontoxic but troublesome chemicals can be filtered out of the water before it comes into your home. Frequently, these systems are used by people who have a well as their water source.

  4. Water-softening systems that will trade (exchange) the non-toxic chemicals in your water, which cause "hardness," for other nontoxic chemicals that do not cause hardness. These units have a limited ability to make this change however, and must be renewed (regenerated) periodically with salt.

  5. Reverse osmosis units that remove hardness; chemicals such as nitrates, sodium, dissolved metals (such as lead and copper) and other minerals; and some organic chemicals. Reverse osmosis units also remove fluoride. Some units are sensitive to chlorine, so a chlorine-removal step usually is included prior to the reverse osmosis unit. Reverse osmosis units do allow some organic chemicals to pass into the treated water, however. These systems are sometimes followed by adsorption units to remove the organic compounds. Reverse osmosis units usually produce relatively small volumes of water.

  6. Distillation units that boil the water and condense the steam to create distilled water remove some organic and inorganic chemicals (hardness, nitrates, chlorine, sodium, dissolved metals, and so forth). Distillation units also remove fluoride. However, some organic chemicals may pass through the units with the steam and contaminate the distilled water unless the unit is specifically designed to avoid this problem.

All of these units require maintenance, should be bought from a reputable dealer, and should be tested and validated against accepted performance standards like those used by the NSF International and the Water Quality Association (the watchdog group for home treatment devices). You should investigate all claims made for any unit. A 1991 study by the US General Accounting Office reported that some companies selling these units make fraudulent claims, without regard to the public health risk.

Remember, if the treatment equipment removes the disinfectant presently in your tap water, the treated water must be handled like any other food to prevent contamination. It should be refrigerated, kept in a closed container, and used as quickly as possible.

5. Is distilled water the "perfect" drinking water?
Like most things, distilled water has advantages and disadvantages.

  • Distilling removes many potentially harmful chemicals like lead, copper, nitrates, sodium, some organic contaminants, fluoride and chlorine.

  • Boiling water to make distilled water will kill any harmful bacteria and viruses, as well as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

  • Distilling removes fluoride, and some organic contaminants like chloroform and cleaning fluid (solvents) may leave the water with the steam and end up in the final water when the steam is cooled. However, most companies that provide water distillers incorporate additional treatment into the system to prevent any organics carried with the steam from ending up in the final product.

  • Because most of the minerals are missing, using distilled water in a kettle to make tea or coffee will avoid the buildup of scale (the white stuff).

  • Distilled water is handy around the home for use in steam irons and car batteries and for watering plants.

  • Except in special cases for taking salt out of seawater to make drinking water, distilled water is too expensive to be provided to your house by your public water supplier.

  • Although some think that the low mineral content of distilled water is a disadvantage, most people consume plenty of minerals in a well-balanced diet.

  • Finally, there is some disagreement over the taste of distilled water. Many people like it; others find it flat and tasteless.

6. What is "hard" water?
"Hardness" in drinking water is caused by two nontoxic chemicals (usually called minerals) - calcium and magnesium. If calcium and/or magnesium is present in your water in substantial amounts, the water is said to be hard because making a lather or suds for washing is hard (difficult) to do. Thus, cleaning with hard water is hard/difficult. Water containing little calcium or magnesium is called soft water. (Maybe it should be called easy, the opposite of difficult.) Jamestown BPU water is 9-10 grains per gallon.

7. Should I install a water softener in my home?
If you are bothered by a sticky, gummy soap curd deposit in your bathtub or by the buildup of white deposits (called scale) on your cooking pots and coffee maker, a water softener can help with these problems. You can find out the hardness of your drinking water by telephoning your water supplier. The higher the hardness number, the more a water softener will help. If it is more than 120 milligrams per liter, - sometimes called 120 parts per million or 7 grains per gallon - then you might consider a water softener to reduce the formation of scale in your hot water system and to make washing easier. Jamestown BPU water is 9-10 grams per gallon.

The water softener replaces the nontoxic "hardness" minerals with sodium or potassium. The amounts of these elements are relatively insignificant in comparison to what you get in food and should not be a problem, unless your doctor has put you on a special restricted diet.

Whether to put the softener on your main water line or just the hot water line is a complicated issue. Softening only the host water has some cost and environmental advantages related to regeneration, which is a process by which the softening materials (called resins) inside the softener can be used over and over again.

Water softeners are regenerated with salt. After the salt is used, it goes down the drain and into the environment-so the less salt used the better. Using less salt also saves you money. If you soften only the hot water, less water goes through the softener, so it needs regeneration less often, meaning less salt is being used. Also, regenerating a softener after a selected amount of water has gone through it rather than on a particular time schedule is better, as this prevents wasting salt by regenerating too soon or using the softener after it has stopped softening.

Finally, some people think bathing in completely soft water (both hot and cold water softened) is unpleasant - it feels like the soap won't rinse off. You may actually be surprised to learn, however, that rinsing is actually more complete in soft water than in hard water. Although you can't see it, when you bathe or wash your hair in hard water, some of the same stuff that causes the bathtub ring gets on your body or in your hair. With soft water this material does not form, so rinsing is more complete.

Softening only the hot water has two disadvantages. First, if you wash your clothes in cold water, you won't get the benefit of soft water; however, you can buy products to add to your wash to help if this is a problem. Second and more important, if your water is very hard - more than twice the numbers mentioned above - when you mix the hot and cold water together, you won't see much benefit from the softener.

Concern has been expressed by some whether the installation of a water softener may raise the lead and copper content of drinking water in homes that are experiencing problems. Probably not, but the US Environmental Protection Agency is conducting research to investigate these matters.

8. When I put ice cubes that I've made in my freezer into a glass of water, white stuff appears in the glass as the ice cubes melt. What is the white stuff and where does it come from?
Ice cubes freeze from the outside, so the center of the cube is the last to freeze. Ice is pure water, only H2O, so as the ice cube freezes, all of the dissolved minerals, like the hardness minerals, get pushed to the center. Near the end of the freezing, there isn't much water left in the center of the cube, so these minerals become very concentrated, and they form the "white stuff" - the technical name is precipitate. The hardness minerals that cause the "white stuff" are not toxic.

Some commercial ice cubes are "cored" after they freeze to remove this material. Having posts in your ice cube tray doesn't help, however, as the precipitate must actually be removed by coring.

9. Should I buy bottled water?
Remember that US bottled water is less regulated than municipal drinking water. You don't need to buy bottled water for health reasons if your drinking water meets all of the federal, state, or provincial drinking water standards. If you want a drink with a different taste, you can buy bottled water, but it costs up to 1,000 times more than municipal drinking water. Of course, in emergencies bottled water can be a vital source of drinking water for people without water.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires bottled water quality standards to be equal to those of the US Environmental Protection Agency for tap water, but the quality of the finished product is not government-monitored. Bottlers must test their source water and finished product once a year. Currently, any bottled water that contains contaminants in excess of the allowable level is considered mislabeled unless it had a statement of substandard quality. According to the latest amendment of the Safe Drinking Water Act (1996), by February 1999, FDA must complete a study to find the best way to inform consumers of "bottled water" contents. Although recent tests have not found any lead in dozens of brands of bottled water, studies have shown that microbes may grow in the bottles while on grocers' shelves. Some states impose expiration dates on bottled water, two years from the date of bottling in New York, for example. Canada does have restrictions on labeling bottled water and has minimal quality requirements covered by the Canadian Food and Drug Act.

Certain bottlers simply fill their bottles with city drinking water, thus producing "bottled water" that is no different than municipal water, although many states require the source of the water to be on the label if the water is sold in the state where it is bottled.

Bottled water is popular; Americans spend $4 billion annually to buy this product-half the amount the country spends to protect tap water. Overall about 10 to 15 percent of US households drink bottled water, consider it a food and refrigerate it after opening.

NOTE: Individuals placed on a highly restricted sodium diet should choose a brand of bottled water that contains zero (0) milligrams (mg) of sodium in an 8-ounce glass.

CAUTION: Some bottles labeled sodium-free contain some sodium, maybe too much for those on a highly restricted sodium diet. Check the label carefully on any bottle of water you buy to find out the sodium content of that particular brand, regardless of the general labeling.

10. Where does my drinking water come from?
There are two major sources of drinking water: surface water and groundwater. Surface water comes from lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Groundwater comes from wells that the water supplier drills into aquifers. An aquifer is an underground geologic formation through which water flows slowly.

Jamestown's water comes from artesian wells which means that the wells are drilled into a confined aquifer from which water will rise higher than the level of its overlying confining material if given the opportunity to do so.

Tour the Water System

The system’s groundwater can be drawn from two separate well fields, each totally independent of the other and each source capable of supplying all of the community’s needs. The two underground reservoirs provide 11,500,000 gallons of storage and both Cassadaga and Clay Pond Pump Stations each have a 500,000 gallon storage tank. The Lakewood water tank contains 2,000,000 gallons of finished water. An above ground tank at the Chautauqua County Airport holds 150,000 gallons of finished water.

As of 2012, the BPU Water Division serves the City of Jamestown and the Villages of Celoron, Falconer and Lakewood. Portions of the Towns of Busti, Ellicott and North Harmony also receive BPU water.

The Cassadaga aquifer has a watershed area of 140 square miles. Water is pumped from eight wells and collected in a receiving well at the Cassadaga well field. Just enough chlorine and fluoride are added before the water is pumped to the Buffalo Street Pump Station. Each well head and its equipment is enclosed in a small building such as this one. Two 200 horsepower pumps at the Cassadaga Pump Station propel the water to the Buffalo Street Pump Station, on the first leg of its journey to utility customers.

This is the Buffalo Street Pump Station and the 1,500,000-gallon reservoir. Water is pumped here from the Cassadaga well field to be distributed to BPU customers.Originally built in 1925 with a cone top, in 1957, the first reservoir was refurbished with a new one with a flat concrete roof covered with grass. These 200 horsepower booster pumps at the Buffalo Street Pump Station send water from the Cassadaga well field out into the utility's water distribution system.

The English Hill Reservoir, located at the highest point of the city, consists of two identical 5,000,000-gallon chambers. The first chamber was built in 1912-13and the second chamber in 1965-66. One 20 horsepower and two 75 horsepower pumps move water to homes and schools located at this same elevation, while gravity will cause the remainder to flow into the distribution system should it be needed.

The Conewango aquifer has a watershed area of 290 square miles. Water is pumped from the four wells tapping this aquifer to the Clay Pond Pump Station and stored in a 500,000 gallon storage tank. This Pond was once a pit where blue clay was dug for brick making. The story has it, that one day workers returned to the clay pit to find it had filled with water - thus Clay Pond. The English Hill reservoir can be filled two ways - by back flow from the distribution system or by direct pumpage from Clay Pond. This refilling is usually done during the night. Two 200 horsepower pumps propel the water to the English Hill Reservoir. All pumps are redundant in case of failure.

Water Division History

In 1903, the City of Jamestown purchased the Jamestown Water Company from the American Water Works and Guarantee Company of Pittsburgh for the sum of $600,000. This purchase brought to a close a long series of negotiations which had been pending for a good many years, during which time the municipality had been debating whether to purchase the water system as it then existed, or to construct an entirely new plant of their own.

A Board of Commissioners was established for the purpose of operating the Water Department. The early days of their existence were rather trying for they had naturally inherited many problems and much grievance from the former owners. In 1914, the Water and Light Commissioners were consolidated and known as the Board of Water and Lighting Commissioners. Finally, in 1923, the City Charter was revised and as part of that revision, the Board of Public Utilities was established to assume control and jurisdiction of the municipal utility systems.

In the mid-1800s, an early Jamestown settler, "Father Hart", was president, Board of Directors, and office boy for Jamestown's first water works system. Father Hart, his horse Larry, his cart and water barrels were the distribution system. The rates were reasonable - 15 cents a barrel, or two for a quarter.

The old man and his load of water were a familiar sight on the village streets in Jamestown's early days. The old man and his rig did a good, steady, conservative, though not rushing, business.

In September of 1873, the Trustees of the Village of Jamestown called a meeting to vote on a proposition for a municipal water works, primarily to provide fire protection. $5,000 was appropriated to lay a small wooden pipeline from the Warner Dam, up Main to Fifth Street and down Main to Fenton Place. The pipe had plugs for hose attachment at convenient intervals. A pump was installed with a water wheel to drive it and the waters of the Outlet were to run the wheel - that is, when there was sufficient water.

The Kents established the first public water supply for the Village of Jamestown. They drilled 12 wells near where Fairmount Avenue and the Erie Railroad intersect, laid nearly 13 miles of mains and built a pumping station. Soon after, the wells were determined as inadequate, so wrought iron main was laid from Chautauqua Lake, near the old Celoron ballroom, to the pump station. That main was a complete failure as well.

In 1888, several townspeople, knowing of certain small, hand-driven wells of great volume near Levant, built a pumping station there and for a number of years, it provided the City with all of the ground water that it needed.

The American Water Works and Guaranty Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania purchased the water works in 1889 for $300,000. The city residents built further and further away from the Outlet and higher and higher into the surrounding hills over the next few years until it was impossible for the pumps at Levant to raise the water. So, the Buffalo Street Pump Station was built in 1892 to serve as a booster station.

The City of Jamestown purchased back the water works in 1903 for $600,000.

During 1912 and 1913, the City built the 5 million gallon, English Hill reservoir (a second 5 million gallon chamber was added in the 1960s) and doubled the force main from Levant.

The National Board of Fire Underwriters made a survey of the City with reference to the ability of the water and Fire Departments to take care of fires and conflagrations that might happen in the City. In its August 10, 1910 report, the Underwriters called on the Water Department to set about providing, with the least possible delay, a reservoir with an ultimate capacity of at least 15 million gallons, to be located on the top of English Hill, a 24-inch line connecting it with the system and a second 16-inch force main from Levant. Also, the report required adding a large amount of large diameter pipe to the system, together with a number of minor requests and recommendations, all of which were to be completed in the period of five years from the date of the report.

The initial 1,500,000 gallon Buffalo Street Reservoir was built in 1925. The reservoir was built of rock, 100 feet inside diameter and 18 feet deep, with a concrete floor and a corrugated iron roof supported by light steel trusses.

Rebuilt years later, the reservoir was moved slightly on the property and the peaked roof was removed. The new flat roof was covered with earth and grassed over.

Today, the Water Division of Jamestown's Board of Public Utilities continues to extract ground water from approximately the same area. Together with water drawn from the Cassadaga aquifer, the BPU provides this precious natural resource for close to 48,000 residents of the City of Jamestown, the Villages of Busti, Lakewood, Falconer, and Celoron and portions of the Town of Ellicott, West Ellicott and North Harmony.

Home Water Electric Wastewater Solid Waste District Heat About the BPU Contact the BPU