Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The return of hot weather has brought about a yearly problem in Syracuse: people swimming in the Clinton Square fountain.
In 2011, NewsChannel 9 had the fountain water tested
at Upstate Laboratories, Inc. and found more than 3,
000 bacteria strains including e-coli. The water was 200 times the maximum contaminant level in drinking water.
That health warning along with the risk of a hefty fine still doesn't keep some people from taking a dip.
People were spotted in the fountain on Sunday afternoon, including 8-year-old Genesis Serrano, who said she enjoys the Clinton Square Fountain more than a regular pool.
"I've never come here before," Serrano explained. "This is the first time that I've come here."
City pools are not yet open for the season, so some kids jumped in the fountain to cool off.
But what they don’t know, is the water is constantly re-circulating and bacteria, mostly from birds, is multiplying making the water unsafe.
Sgt. Gary Bulinski of the Syracuse Police Department said it is also unsafe because there is no lifeguard.
"You see small children here. If they fall, hit their heads, perhaps parents don't realize something happened. Then we could look at a tragedy occurring as a result of that," Bulinski said.
Swimming in the fountain can get you up to a $500 fine.
"If it's children in the pool then it's the adults, parents or guardians here, that would be responsible and they'd be the ones getting arrested," Bulinski said.
A few people enjoying the fountain on Sunday suggested the city put in chlorine and staff a lifeguard.
"I think the water should be cleaned for them," said Kirk Thompson. "It's a very popular spot."
The young swimmers agreed. "I like it because it's cold and it has so much water that I like it," Serrano said.
For now, the water is not safe. City officials ask everyone to cool off at home and wait to swim in outdoor city pools when they open mid-June.