Dozens arrested for swimming in reservoir in New Britain - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Dozens arrested for swimming in reservoir in New Britain

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Wassel Reservoir Wassel Reservoir

New Britain police arrested several people for swimming in the Wassel Reservoir this past weekend.

Although there are many signs on the land from the New Britain Water Department said that swimming is illegal in the reservoir, police said they caught more than 24 people attempting to take a cool break from the heat.

Residents who live in the neighborhood told Eyewitness News that this has been happening often.

"Always around 10 a.m. they walk over barefoot, four or six of them," said Jiri Havlicek, a New Britain resident. "I'd see them by the Wassel Reservoir and they'd jump off the cliffs."

There were 26 people caught swimming in the reservoir and they were all charged with third-degree criminal trespass.

"The public drinking supply is just for that, drinking," said New Britain mayor's spokesperson, Phil Sherwood. "Whether it's kids or adults, you can't fish in it, and you can't swim in it."

The staff, which patrols the area, told Eyewitness News that it happens almost every weekend. The swimmers are in the reservoir throughout the day, but many times they leave before the police are called.

The reservoir is a dangerous area and there are no lifeguards. City officials said the best way to beat the heat wave is to swim in one of the city's pools.

"A couple years ago, there was a drowning there," Sherwood said. "So it's not just a matter of protecting the water supply, but if people are swimming there and there are no lifeguards, the city is responsible."

The city has multiple pools and it has two open daily, which are staffed with lifeguards in addition to some splash pads.

City officials hope the recent arrests will help others understand the message.

"I'm thinking it's more for safety reasons rather than to knock off their fun," Havlicek said.

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