ON the fifteenth anniversary of the devastating death of teenager Reuben Morgan, his mother Maxine has joined Welsh Water to remind the public of the potentially fatal dangers of unauthorised swimming in reservoirs this summer.
The warning comes after the tragic news of another fatality which saw the body of a 27-year-old man recovered from Ponden reservoir in Bradford yesterday.
Each year, large numbers of people, predominantly young men, enter the water in reservoirs across Wales in unauthorised conditions, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk. This is despite the fact that statistics from Water Safety Wales estimate that 45 people in Wales lose their lives to drowning each year in coastal and inland waters.
Welsh Water has heightened concerns this year with more members of the public flocking to beauty spots to enjoy the warmer weather and new freedoms as lockdown restrictions ease and more people stay local this year.
Since May, rangers patrolling Welsh Water reservoirs have had to approach 37 different people who had attempted to enter the water to swim or use personal canoes or paddleboards on the water. Despite the dangers, these numbers are expected to rise throughout the summer.
The dangers of swimming in reservoirs include:
- Hidden structures made of concrete or metal beneath the surface of the water which can often operate without warning.
- Freezing currents that can cause even strong swimmers to find themselves in cold water shock and unable to swim.
- Reduced chance of rescue due to the remote location of many reservoirs, with little or no mobile reception.
Welsh Water’s annual reservoir safety campaign which also starts today raises awareness of these dangers and serves to highlight the enormous impact unauthorised swimming could have on friends, family, communities, and emergency services.
Reuben Morgan was just fifteen years old when he visited Pontsticill reservoir with friends. Five of the group decided to swim across the reservoir to cool down. While Reuben’s friends made it across, after disappearing under the water three times, Reuben did not resurface.
Reuben’s mother, Maxine said: “Reuben has been gone now for as long as he was alive. At the time, I never thought Reuben would enter the water. He died because of cold water shock from the freezing temperatures and if he’d have known more about the dangers his death could have been prevented. Losing Reuben has had a massive impact on so many of us; his friends, family, and teachers. We as a family are heartbroken and we continue to miss him every day.
“Educating younger people and spreading the word about the very real dangers of unauthorised swimming in reservoirs is absolutely essential.”
Head of Visitor Attractions at Welsh Water, Mark Davies said: “Our reservoirs are absolutely beautiful places to relax and unwind. From the surface they look calm and peaceful, and people are tempted to swim, paddle, or even jump into the water. But safety is paramount; there are many hidden dangers underneath the surface of the water and unauthorised swimming can be fatal. One life lost is one too many.
“We know that enjoying the water safely can provide immense benefits for mental and physical wellbeing which is why we have been working with Swim Wales to introduce safe, supervised, and bookable sessions at a small number of our Visitor Attractions. An incredible amount of work has gone into ensuring these sessions are supervised and safe and we’ve positioned clear signage at our sites to remind visitors that unauthorised swimming is strictly prohibited. It is essential people understand that unauthorised access to the water is highly dangerous and can be fatal.”