Don’t take the risk! – Swimming in reservoirs is dangerous

We know it is tempting when the weather is hot to take a dip in Cheddar Reservoir – or in our other reservoirs – but every year there are incidents of near misses and, tragically, some fatal incidents.

Just this week, a large group of school children were swimming in the reservoir as well as diving into it, and it is not just extremely dangerous but also a criminal offence.

Moreover, a 16-year-old boy drowned while swimming with friends at Greenbooth Reservoir in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

The risk of drowning in open water can increase by a number of hidden dangers such as underwater pumps that can switch on suddenly and underwater plants that can tangle you. Also, the water might be a lot colder or deeper than you were expecting.

Even paddling and bathing is dangerous: the slippery banks and steep shelves mean that you could quickly get out of your depth. Reservoirs aren’t life-guarded beaches or public swimming pools; they really aren’t safe!

By entering the reservoir water, not only are you putting your own life in danger but those who may try to come to your aid. You may also accidentally be encouraging others to think that swimming in the reservoir is safe.

Nobody wants the knock on the door from the police telling them that they have lost a child or other family member; it is even more tragic if the accident was avoidable. Nobody wants to be in part responsible for a death or a life-changing accident.

How you can help us

With the summer holidays on the way, Bristol Water is expecting the number of people enjoying a walk around Cheddar Reservoir to increase; and some will be tempted to go for a dip. Therefore, we are asking everyone to stay on the path and away from the water. If you see someone swimming, please report it to the police via 101 or in an emergency by calling 999. Bristol Water staff will also be patrolling the site to keep it as safe and enjoyable as possible for everybody.

Key stats

  • In 2005 a professional swimmer died at Cheddar reservoir
  • ROSPA reported 381 drownings and water-related deaths in the UK in 2013 (last reported figures).
  • The South West had the highest number of deaths of any region in England or Wales.
  • The highest number of deaths were teenagers aged between 15 and 19.
  • 12% of deaths were children under 19.
  • The peak of accidents is during the summer months (July and August).
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