(Picture – Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water – Pontsticill Reservoir)
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is urging people to not swim in reservoirs during the hot weather, as new figures showed a surge in the number incidents.
The warning comes after the tragic drowning of a teenager in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, after he went swimming in a reservoir.
Welsh Water, a not-for-profit water company that serves more than three million customers across most of Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Deeside, said there were 30 incidents reported across its area over the weekend, when the country experienced some of the hottest days of the year so far.
The company has launched its own campaign to highlight the dangers of swimming in reservoirs, One Last Breath, which features the impact on friends and family of a drowning.
The company’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Perry, said:
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the boy involved in the tragedy at Greenbooth Reservoir in Rochdale.
“This incident highlights the significant dangers of swimming in reservoirs, and we want to warn the public not to enter the water. With freezing temperatures, hidden machinery and strong currents, even the strongest swimmers can be pulled under the water.
“We know the weather is particularly warm at the moment and people are tempted to go for a swim – but I cannot emphasise enough that people are not only putting their own lives at risk, but also the lives of people who may try and help if they get into difficulty.”
During the weekend, there were 30 known incidents of where people tried to enter the water – while two people died when swimming at reservoirs in the Brecon Beacons across the same weekend during a heatwave in 2013.
Every year, large numbers of people – mainly young men aged between 17 and 35 – try to swim in reservoirs across Wales and Herefordshire.
Welsh Water is warning of the dangers of swimming in reservoirs, with freezing temperatures, deadly under-currents and hidden machinery that can drag even strong swimmers under.
Jenny Phillips, Head Ranger, said:
“As Head Ranger at one of Welsh Water’s flagship tourist attractions I had to go out today amid reports of someone swimming in one of the reservoirs, at no point in my career do I ever want to have to explain to a mother, father, brother or sister why their family member isn’t coming home, hydroelectric turbines are now commonly used and switch on via and automated system triggered by water levels this means they are unpredictable. You always think it will never be you. One day, you might just get it wrong.”
Welsh Water’s One Last Breath video campaign starkly depicts two teenagers who drown after going into the water at a reservoir on a hot summer day – and the impact on their friends and family left behind.
The campaign has been developed after working with Maxine Johnson, the mother of Reuben Morgan, who tragically died after getting into difficulty when swimming at Pontsticill Reservoir, near Merthyr Tydfil.
The Cyfarthfa High School pupil had been camping at the reservoir with friends when he went swimming and got into difficulties.
A friend of Reuben’s, Kyle Thomas from Merthyr Tydfil, said he didn’t realise the dangers of swimming in reservoirs until it was too late.
“We weren’t aware of the dangers, by doing this it will make people aware of the dangers.”
“If this could stop anybody swimming in reservoirs and stop families going through what Reuben’s family and friends have been through and somebody losing a life.
Welsh Water’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Perry, continued: “Our reservoirs are great places to enjoy organised activities but all too often people are tempted to risk taking a swim which can lead to tragic consequences.
“While reservoirs might seem like a great place to cool off, they are full of hidden dangers with freezing cold water and strong currents.
“We ask customers to remember that reservoirs are working sites that are an important part of the water cycle. This is why we display signage at these sites and undertake campaigns asking customers not to swim at any time.”
English Version – Contains scenes you may find upsetting
Welsh Version – Contains scenes you may find upsetting