By Bill Cantwell
---- — HAVERHILL — There is a new battleground in the war to keep residents cool during the heat wave.
And it is being fueled by cannons — water cannons, that is.
Earlier this week, the city set up a water cannon to splash visitors at Riverside Park and cool them off. Neighborhood children flocked to the area to enjoy the spray and escape the heat.
With the temperature above 90 yesterday and expected to be higher today, the city has set up a second cannon at Swasey Field in the heart of the inner-city Mount Washington neighborhood.
Haverhill owns the water cannon at Riverside Park and uses it primarily for irrigation.
The city spent $400 to rent the second cannon for five days and install it at Swasey Field, said Vincent Ouellette, human services director for Haverhill.
He said it is money well spent.
“If it gives relief to some people, it’s worth it,’’ Ouellette said, noting the neighborhood around Swasey Field is a tightly packed area with many families looking to escape the heat.
The neighborhood is also beyond a reasonable walking distance to Plug Pond, the city’s only public beach where many residents are swimming to cool off.
Ouellette said the water cannons will continue operating at Swasey Field and Riverside Park today from 4 to 8 p.m. and will likely operate tomorrow from 3 to 8 p.m. as well — as long as the heat wave continues into Saturday.
Temperatures are expected to drop Sunday.
The cannons spray water 300 feet and allow children and other park visitors to stand on grassy fields and beat the heat, if only for a little while.
The experience also brings smiles to children’s faces, Ouellette said.
“It’s a gigantic sprinkler,’’ he said. “The kids always have a lot of fun.’’