By Marjorie Nesin
---- — DANVERS — Three residents who set out to cool off yesterday afternoon in Gloucester ended up in hot water.
Gregory Tremblay, 21; Nicholas Velonis, 21; and Andrew Vitolo, 21, all of Danvers, were among 12 people arrested in two separate incidents at the Klondike and Haskell reservoirs in Gloucester. All were charged with trespassing and violating the bylaw that bans swimming in the water supply.
Police also towed eight cars from the reservoirs around 1 p.m.
“We’ve had a lot of citizen complaints and we’ve had some major concerns from the environmental engineering department on the dangers of people swimming in public drinking supply water,” said Gloucester police Chief Leonard Campanello. “It’s culminated in the fact that we found it very necessary to step the enforcement up in this particular area because our requests to comply over the past several months have gone unheeded.”
Campanello said police have ticketed vehicles at Gloucester’s reservoirs and quarries, towed vehicles, and warned people about the potential penalties involved in swimming in a public water supply.
Swimming in the reservoirs and quarries violates both state law and a city ordinance, according to Larry Durkin, environmental engineer for Gloucester’s Department of Public Works.
“You can’t control wild animals and what they’re going to do,” Durkin said. But when you add humans to the reservoir mix, he explained, “you’re more likely to get E. coli bacteria into a surface water supply.”
Gloucester tests the reservoirs for bacteria weekly, and the water has tested clean since the boil-water order issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection in August 2009. But people swimming increases the chances of finding issues, Durkin said.
“The question is, do you want anyone swimming in your drinking water?” he said. “And I don’t want anyone swimming in my drinking water.”
Also arrested were Connor McCarthy, 19; Kelsey McCarthy, 19; Kyle McCarthy, 19; Christopher Shea, 17; Luke Killian, 18; Ian Powers, 19; Kelleigh Matrullo, 19; Matthew Ambrose, 18; and Hansel Rodriguez, 20, all of Reading.