STATEN ISLAND — Even the Marines can't keep thirsty Staten Islanders in check.
The Marine Corps League, an association of active and retired Marines that owns a popular natural spring, plans to leave the water source closed permanently after fights broke out among people drinking from it.
The decision not to reopen was made because of insurance concerns, said Al King, a Marine Corps League commander.
The Sunnyside spring has been closed to the public since August when arguments about people taking a long time to fill large containers turned into brawls.
The water, which some thought bubbled through rock from Pennsylvania before spurting to the surface in Staten Island, had a legion of fans — some of whom claimed not to have drunk anything else in years.
"It's unfortunate because we were trying to let people enjoy it," said King. "People can't get along and they forced us to close it."
The closing was initially supposed to be temporary due to an incident on July 23, according to a sign posted on the fence.
However, when King tried to reopen the spot to the public, his insurance agency and lawyers said he could not due to fear of injuries from the brawls.
"We had no choice," King said. "We had to close it down."
Because the field where the spring sits is uninsured, if somebody was to get hurt there, the Marine Corps League would be held responsible, King said.
"It's a liability issue," he said. "Somebody gets hurt and we have a liability."
The public used to have access to the spring from a gate on Logan Avenue for a few hours a day and residents would line up to collect gallons of water.
A neighbor previously told DNAinfo.com New York that people would regularly fill up 20 to 25 containers of water, and would not let people with one or two bottles go ahead of them in line.
For years, residents from Staten Island, the other boroughs and New Jersey would trek to the area for the spring.
"We couldn't live without it," said Emerson Hill resident Mensur Frangu, 47, who'd been filling up at the spring for more than 10 years.
"We just got so used to it. It's very good water, it's very light."