PUEBLO, Colo. - Splashing underneath the fountains on Union Avenue is a popular way for kids to spend their last days leading to the start of school. But city employees warn that suds are bubbling out of those fountains.
"This summer we've had several occasions of soap being put in these fountains, and at first we thought it was just a prank," said Bill Zwick, a landscape architect with the city.
But it wasn't a prank. Zwick said the city has received reports of homeless people taking a shower in the fountains, and using it to wash their clothes.
"The soap causes problems with the mechanical system and the sand filters and we have to drain that 5,000 gallons and clean everything out," he said.
The city says two of its fountains -- the Headwaters Fountain across from Vectra Bank and the Sister City Fountain -- have had to be drained eight times this year, costing the city about $4,300 to repair.
Rudy Sotelo, a homeless man who frequents the Headwaters Fountain a few times a month, said he's never showered there.
"I don't call it bathing. They just come in here and get refreshed. That's all," Sotelo said.
"I feel that like the homeless people get a bad rap because you don't know what their situation is. You don't know that they maybe can't afford certain things and they may need just time to cool off," said Danielle Gill of Pueblo.
Zwick said the city is looking at reducing the hours the fountain is on, to deter homeless people from using it late at night or early in the morning.