Monday, October 15, 2001

Terrorism fear closes jogging path near reservoirs


Authorities say move is just precautionary, not based on threats

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Authorities today closed a popular jogging/walking path around two reservoirs that supply water to more than 300,000 Northern Kentucky residents.

        The step was taken amid concerns about terrorists tainting the nation's municipal water supplies.

        The parklike setting around the two reservoirs — in the south end of Fort Thomas off Military Parkway — has become a favorite spot for Campbell County residents to jog, walk their dogs or feed the ducks.

        “I am willing to go along with whatever they decide to do because it is for our own good,” said walker Nevada Wilkens, 59, of Fort Thomas.

        “It is a very small sacrifice to make. It has been pleasant to have that walking facility, but we are being terrorized.

        “One of the things they could do is attack our water or food supply. The problem is that you don't know what they are going to do.”

        The closing is a precautionary move to make it harder for someone to contaminate the water, and is not in response to a particular threat against the reservoirs, said Bari Joslyn, director of water quality and production for the district.

        She said water district management decided to close the area around the reservoirs, which provide drinking water to residents in all of Kenton County, most of Campbell County and part of Boone County, after the Sept. 11 attacks.

        The district wanted to close the facility immediately, but wanted to give the public time to get the news, she said.

        As with many key facilities around the Tristate, police have been patrolling the reser voirs since the attacks. But the water district has now hired off-duty Fort Thomas police officers to be stationed at the reservoirs, said Fort Thomas Police Chief Steve Schmidt.

        Ms. Joslyn said that will continue until a fence is constructed around the reservoirs.

        She said the water district would like to reopen the walking paths when a plan can be developed to better protect the water supply.

        Extra security precautions have also been taken at another reservoir in Fort Thomas.

        That reservoir, which provides water to all of Newport, does not have the same parkland environment and is not as heavily used by the public.

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