By Hochul Press Office | October 19, 2023

More than 32,000 Gallons of Drinking Water and 11 Water Tankers Being Dispatched to Watertown

Reverse 9-1-1 Cell Phone Alerts Sent to Residents by Jefferson County

New York State Deploying Incident Management Team to Further Support Response

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a State of Emergency in Jefferson County due to the ongoing water main break in the City of Watertown. At the Governor’s direction, the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated and all available state resources, including drinking water, water tankers, an Incident Management Team and additional staff, are being deployed to support the Watertown Community. Jefferson County has also deployed Reverse 9-1-1 cell phone alerts to all residents.

“Emergency responders have been on the ground in Watertown since this morning, working to keep our communities safe and deploying resources as needed,” Governor Hochul said. “We want to ensure New Yorkers impacted in that area are away of the resources available to them and that they have access to the water that they need, and declaring a State of Emergency will make that possible. Thank you to those working hard for their neighbors – we appreciate your service.”

“Our top priority is to keep New Yorkers safe and ensure that the residents in Watertown have access to the resources needed during this State of Emergency,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “State personnel have been on the ground and local emergency responders are working thoroughly to evaluate the water distribution systems and assist in restoring the water systems in Jefferson County.”

As part of this deployment, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is sending more than 32,000 gallons of drinking water from six of the state’s regional stockpiles to Watertown, along with 11 water tankers to provide additional water. This deployment includes more than 256,000 cans of water, as well as 62,496 bottles of water. Distribution sites are currently being identified and residents will be notified via Reverse 9-1-1 and via local officials.

Water distribution sites have been established at the following locations:

  • Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 970 Coffeen St, Watertown, NY 13601
  • Watertown High School, 1335 Washington St, Watertown, NY 13601
  • State Street and Eastern Blvd., Watertown, NY 13601

The Jefferson County Fairgrounds site is now open for distribution. The high school and State St. and Eastern Blvd. locations will open at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 19, 2023. Sites will remain open until 10 p.m. and then reopen at 7 a.m. on Friday, October 20.

Please note – Residents obtaining water at the fairgrounds will be able to obtain bottled or canned water, as well as fill up their own containers brought from home via water tankers. Residents choosing to obtain water at the high school and State St. and Eastern Blvd. locations will only be able to fill containers brought from home via water tankers. Residents will be able to obtain non-potable water at all three sites with containers brought from home. Residents have been alerted via Wireless Emergency Alert.

Additionally, staff from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), New York State Police (NYSP), the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, and the Departments of Health (DOH) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) are on the ground supporting local response efforts.

DHSES has deployed the State’s Incident Management Team (IMT) to support the response. The IMT is a multi-agency/multi-jurisdictional team that can be deployed or activated when needed to manage an incident or event safely, effectively, and efficiently, regardless of the cause, size, or complexity. DHSES’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control has also activated the state’s Fire Operations Center and Fire Mutual Aid Plan. This will allow for the delivery of additional firefighting resources from communities statewide upon request in the event they are needed.

Additionally, state and local emergency responders continue to work to evaluate water distribution systems and moving valves from Fort Drum to assist in the water restoration efforts. The State Health Department is ensuring the continuation of health care services and the State Education Department contacted local school districts to send students home early.

For more information on water main breaks and boil water advisories, please visit the New York State Department of Health’s website here.