Yorkshire’s water resources are still looking healthy despite two months of scorching weather but warnings are once again being sounded about the dangers of swimming in reservoirs as the school holidays begin.
The latest figures from Yorkshire Water show that reservoir levels are reassuringly standing at almost 80% full, 11% higher than they were at the same time last summer.
Those strong levels mean, despite the thermometer creeping towards 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the region this week, Yorkshire Water can reassure customers that there will be no hosepipe ban in the region for the 18th year running.
Neil Dewis, Yorkshire Water Head of Operations, said: “We are currently in the middle of another great summer and we know that long spells of warm weather can cause people to worry about the threat of a hosepipe ban.
“We’re proud not to have had a hosepipe ban in the region since 1996 and don’t see that changing this year. Although reservoir levels may be higher than last year thanks to a little more rain we’re not complacent. We would still urge customers to use their water wisely and we’ll be going around the region explaining our water efficiency campaign in the coming weeks.”
The sweltering summer across Britain – June was the hottest since 1910 and the current heatwave is forecast to stay for at least a fortnight – has also prompted Yorkshire Water to join forces with two of the region’s emergency services to sound another warning on swimming in its reservoirs.
Neil continued: “Despite the hot weather we would also like to once again ask people across the region to stay out of our reservoirs. They may look inviting but the temperatures and currents within them can be deadly and we’d hate to have another tragedy on one of our sites this year.”
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager Ian Thompson, who is a Technical Rescue Officer, said: “Too often in the past people have been drawn to the cooling waters on a hot day, only to find that they are simply not capable of functioning in the low temperatures encountered in the deeper water.
“Often this results in a call to the emergency services and in some instances with a fatal outcome. Time is crucial when it comes to helping someone in trouble, if you see someone in distress in the water dial 999 immediately.”
Inspector Dave Murray of Northallerton police, said: “Even during warm weather, water temperatures can be dangerously low. The water can also conceal rubbish, rocks, shallow areas, plants which can wrap around you, strong currents and diseases. If you want to go for swim, it’s best to use a swimming pool or lifeguard patrolled beach.
“If you get into difficulty in an isolated location it is unlikely that the emergency services will reach you in time. It’s not worth the risk.”
Reservoirs are very deep, extremely cold and can have strong undercurrents caused by the fact that water is being continually drawn from them through large submerged pipes.
The shock of cold water surrounding a swimmer can result in hyperventilation and, if the water is not exited, the body will gradually started to shut down to protect the vital organs and muscles will begin to cramp.
In June, a 38-year-old man died after swimming in Snailsden reservoir in South Yorkshire, the latest in a series of deaths at the company’s sites. Signs have subsequently been erected around all of Yorkshire Water’s reservoirs warning people about the dangers.