‘Don’t go swanning around in reservoirs’ - NI Water warns public

Rescuers Nicky Hill and Frank Quinn with a lucky duckling.
Rescuers Nicky Hill and Frank Quinn with a lucky duckling.

North Woodburn Reservoir is a much loved place for walkers and joggers but recently some visitors have been found ‘swanning’ around the Dam.

Over the past few weeks, in fact, there have been some instances of swans sliding over the overflow weir at the Reservoir and becoming stuck.

Maynard Cousley, Water Supply Senior Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome swans to the Reservoir, but, like all our visitors, we want to keep them safe while they are there.

“NI Water has erected a chain type barrier across the overflow weir to stop the swans from sliding down and becoming trapped.

“This is a timely reminder to everyone that reservoirs can be dangerous places, even our local wildlife can sometimes be caught out.

“Reservoirs can be much colder than they look and there are strong undercurrents which can trouble even the most confident of swimmers – ask the swans! Therefore, they are not safe for people to swim in.

“Hopefully the chain will allow the swans to enjoy the Reservoir while also keeping safe at the same,” said Maynard.

In the past, NI Water staff at other plants have helped an injured buzzard, a seal, a family of ducks, frogs and abandoned kittens.

NI Water has pointed out the dangers that exist around swimming in a reservoir.

A spokesperson said: “With the first tastes of summer already upon us, reservoirs and other water bodies like disused quarries can look like a perfect place to spend a beautiful day.

“However, that calm as a milkpond exterior that can appear so inviting on a warm day will carry real danger that everyone should be aware of – a quick dip can very easily lead to a quick death.

“In order to help make this summer safe for everyone, NI Water and Quarry Products Association NI are once again uniting to put out a strong message to the community, especially young people, to stay away from reservoirs, quarries and other bodies of water that are not usually open for public access.

“We want everyone to have a fantastic summer, and hopefully we’ll have the warm, sunny weather to match the season. But always resist the temptation to cool off in a reservoir or a quarry.”

The dangers include: very cold temperatures; there can be strong underwater currents, which can trouble even the most confident of swimmers; reservoirs are often very deep; there may be hidden debris or underwater hazards which can cause injury, including weeds and plants; it can be very difficult to get out of the water (due to steep slimy banks); and, there are no lifeguards on duty.