ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Hitting the water is the place to be today, especially at 90 degrees.
However, Millennium Fountain should be hands off. There’s a lot of confusion over this Rockford fountain made strictly for viewing.
On a hot summer day, Rockford’s Millennium Fountain can be just as popular as some of our public pools. As dozens of kids splash through the water, some unknowingly breaking the law.
“I thought it was a fountain where everyone can come and if they wanted to get wet, get wet and go on about their day.”
Three signs posted around the area warn us to keep out, even threatening a hefty fine if we decide to jump in. The city says the postings aren’t meant to be a kill-joy, but a warning that our health could be in danger.
“It’s not for swimming or running through or any of those things to do, it’s recycling water that could have E. Coli. in it.”
The recycled water also comes from the same area where a dead bird sits, feet from where a baby and other kids were playing. Business owners in the area say they’ve seen naked men, bathing in the fountain in the mornings. Again, the same water the children are splashing in today.
“I’ll probably never let my son run through this water again,” said one parent.
Some parents feel the signs aren’t enough, saying they’re receiving mixed messages. For example, a photo on the Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s website shows kids in the same water. Another depicts a scene from Rockford City Market where police officers monitor the streets.
“Some people didn’t see the signs, like I was walking by and didn’t see the signs.”
The city will now have to determine whether the signs are being ignored or just aren’t doing the job.
We do want to clarify that a lot of the video used in this story was after we told parents about the possibility of contaminated water. There didn’t seem to be an urgency from everyone to get out of the fountain. The Winnebago County Health Department says recycled water can be a breeding ground for contamination. As for the dead bird, they say they aren’t concerned about West Nile or any other major illnesses. They compare the problem to Russian Roulette, stressing to parents, why take the chance when you don’t know what could happen.
It seems as though the fountain is being confused for the Park District’s spray pads. Even the president of Commerce thought it was okay to play in the fountain.