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July 24, 2013

Reservoir swimmers draw residents' ire

At the end of New Way Lane, a web of small dirt paths and trails is littered with water bottles, beer cans, wrappers and other garbage.

And all of that is ripe for the drinking, if any of it seeps into the nearby body of water.

Dykes Reservoir, high off New Way Lane in West Gloucester, is one of the sources of drinking water for the city. But the beer cans and trash in the woods nearby are symptomatic of a larger issue, says John Perry, who lives at the end of New Lane Way.

He said people can often be found camping, boating, kayaking and swimming in the reservoir — and that it is an old problem.

“There is always something going on,” he said. “It’s like Good Harbor Beach down there.”

Last week, Gloucester police arrested 12 young people — all from either Reading or Danvers — and towed eight cars after numerous reports of people swimming in Klondike and Haskell reservoirs.

“We’re ramping up enforcement in all the reservoirs and quarry areas,” said city Police Chief Leonard Campanello.

At least part of the problem has been a lack of notice, according to Larry Durkin, an environmental engineer for Gloucester’s Department of Public Works.

Perry, who has been calling city officials from Police Chief Leonard Campanello to Durkin himself, had signs destroyed on his property that stated the illegality of swimming in the reservoir. Anyone who swims, boats or enters the reservoir could face a fine up to $1,000.

Durkin said new signs were attached to trees Tuesday, including on Perry’s property and around Dyles Reservoir — and out of the reach for anyone who hopes to destroy them. Durkin added that with the aid of a few interns, he will also be distributing leaflets where people are known to park and swim in other reservoirs.

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