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Access to open water

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As many of you will know open water swimming has become a bit of a thing in the last couple of years. In my local area there are a few dozen people who have taken to using a particular reservoir during the pandemic. This has carried on into the winter, now in groups of two.

This afternoon whilst out running over local hills I passed the above spot. To my surprise I met an official looking women with a fierce looking dog on lead. Having never, in decades, seen any sort of security on the moors I stopped to ask what was going on. It seems Yorkshire Water have employed a security firm to move on or stop wild swimming in the reservoir. The rationale for this that the company would be liable for any injury to those accessing the water.

I've no idea about the legalities of this but is this the thin of the wedge for access to open water in England.

 facet 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Deleated bagger:

Interesting! And quite worrying for the swimmers. It does seem to be a 'hobby' that has become the new fad these days since lockdown! I see so many posts on Instagram of folk 'wild' swimming in the Lakes (my old stomping ground)... and why not! It's almost like when activities reach a particular level of popularity they then come under the eye of the 'spoil police'! Good luck to all of the wild swimmers.. I'm too nesh for it!

In reply to Deleated bagger:

Can I ask where were you?

I'm close to approx 5 reservoirs managed by YW.

In reply to facet:

I've don't know any reservoirs that allow wild swimming..

Are you aware of any?

 marsbar 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Deleated bagger:

Unfortunately there has always been an access issue with water in England.  Far too cold for me right now though.

Post edited at 20:06
In reply to Shaun mcmurrough:

> Can I ask where were you?

> I'm close to approx 5 reservoirs managed by YW.

Snailsden above Holmfirth. Apparently the dog is needed because of verbal agression from those people challenged.

 tomsan91 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Deleated bagger:

Will raise this with the estates department at work, I dont think security guards with dogs is the image we want to portray to the public at YW and no we cannot absolve liability by having a 3rd party checking reservoirs occasionally.

In reply to Deleated bagger:

Cheers..

I'm near Fewston,Swinsty and Thuscross and a couple more..swimming in reservoirs is banned here.

Maybe more of a problem were you are...

In reply to tomsan91:

> Will raise this with the estates department at work, I dont think security guards with dogs is the image we want to portray to the public at YW and no we cannot absolve liability by having a 3rd party checking reservoirs occasionally.

While you are at it...can you ask if I can mtb round Fewston....😉

 marsbar 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Shaun mcmurrough:

Swimming without permission is banned in all Yorkshire Water reservoirs. Probably same elsewhere. It is in the bylaws and as such it can be enforced.   

In reply to marsbar:

Its really frustrating - two lovely reservoirs near me (Blagdon Lake and Chew Reservoir) where it would be easy to allow swimming in areas well away from the water intakes. Some obviously occurs anyway, but officially banned and that really does put me off.

 tomsan91 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Shaun mcmurrough:

Isn't it still like the M62 on a monday morning around Fewston at the moment? 😂 

In reply to marsbar:

Thanks...👍

It's a personal opinion but I always get the impression YW do the least amount possible for recreation..no mtb allowed,access issues,lack of facilities and they own some cracking spots.

Post edited at 20:37
1
In reply to tomsan91:

🤣..I always drive past and go up to Timble.

It's manic there...

 marsbar 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Dr.S at work:

It seems to me to be an unfortunate combination of historical excessive deference to landowners and landowners concerns over liability that have led to these sort of restrictive bylaws.  Add to that the sort of clueless people I saw swimming in the disused quarries and gravel pits last summer where there are overhanging banks, old machinery underwater and a lot of weeds as well as the usual shopping trolleys and I can see why things are difficult.  

1
 olddirtydoggy 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Deleated bagger:

The whole waterways access rights is pathetic in England as our friends in Scotland have pretty much access to most waterways. On the swimming thing, there are some reservoirs that have had poisonous algae that has killed people in the past. I seem to remember a story of a kid swimming in Underbank reservoir who died.

Putting on security with dogs seems rather over the top, I've always thought that warning signs should be enough to help persons make their own informed choices on safety. I can't imagine allowing swimmers would be a pollution issue.

I would like to see the waterways open to paddlers in England.

1
 Hardonicus 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Deleated bagger:

Christ almighty it must have been fresh up there! There's a reservoir in Marsden where swimming is permitted but it's quite unusual.

In reply to marsbar:

Yes, similar to some stuff that goes on with climbing in quarries etc..

 wintertree 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Deleated bagger:

I've enjoyed "swimming" as I call it most of my life, starting with a mill pond in the River Pant.

> I've no idea about the legalities of this but is this the thin of the wedge for access to open water in England.

Water boards in the UK have long been universally miserable towards swimmers.  Liability and all that.  I understand where they're coming from.  The signage does a remarkably poor job of informing people of the risks "Cold water kills" being emphasised in the summer.  No - not knowing how to handle swimming in cold water kills.  The scare tactics used for safety go counter to informed messaging IMO.

I've never met anyone with a guard dog, but then again I tend to avoid reservoirs as there's a lot of water board staff about and there are more exciting places to go swimming.

I was blown away by reservoirs in California - state mandated access for all.  Carparks, toilet blocks, families teaching their young children to swim outdoors.  Admittedly the climate is a bit better.

I'd settle for a half-way house - if the water baord set up a buoy-and-roped off area for swimming and charged admissions I'd happily pay for access and sign any and all liability waivers, or they could have a life guard on duty.  With the sudden rage for "swimming" as I call it, it could take off.

I'm a bit concerned that a couple of local estates, where a blind eye has long been turned to swimming in sections of river on their land, are going to start tightening up on this.  I only did one tour of my swimming spots this year as the staycation madness was just too much, and by the end of it I was proper angry over the amount of rubbish, broken glass and fire damage. If I was a landowner there I'd have been hoping mad.

2
 Mattyk 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Deleated bagger:

I'm mainly interested in this because you must live near me. That's my regular run. Never seen anybody. What's bizarre is they don't do anything when the kids are dive bombing into Ramsden in the summer.

 Martin W 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Shaun mcmurrough:

> I've don't know any reservoirs that allow wild swimming..

> Are you aware of any?

Harlaw, Threipmuir & Bonaly to name just three locally (and all within my local authority area).  But then I live in Scotland.

Kudos to the two lassies I saw at Thriepmuir on New Year's Day lugging drybags back to the car park.  The reservoir was frozen for a good twenty feet from the bank so I can't imagine the water was what one might call tropical once you reached it!

Post edited at 21:38
In reply to Deleated bagger:

I work in the water industry across the UK, having started off with YW. In general I would say water companies like the idea of people having access to the land they own, good PR, additional customer benefit etc.

They are also extremely risk averse, and very reluctant to allow anything to go ahead if it has even slight (at times this means vanishingly small) potential to end in injury or fatality. In day to day business this means they spend huge amounts of time and money minimising risk for employees and contractors. When the public are involved it's pretty inevitable that they're not going to allow activities like wild swimming to go ahead.

While I'd like to think that a pragmatic solution could be found so wild swimming can go ahead, the presence of security guards is more an indication of corporate approach to H&S than a particular wish to stop people having fun

 marsbar 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Sam W:

The only reservoir swimming I’ve done was an organised session where you had to complete an induction first and once a year I think and a swim test, wear an orange hat and they had safety kayakers on the water.  It’s a solution I suppose.

Just next to the Castle Climbing centre in London. 

 deepsoup 09 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> Liability and all that.

Do they have liabilities if someone goes swimming in a cold reservoir and drowns?  Any more than the landowner does if a climber falls off a crag?  (ie: basically none)

2
 wintertree 09 Jan 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

> Do they have liabilities if someone goes swimming in a cold reservoir and drowns?  Any more than the landowner does if a climber falls off a crag?  (ie: basically none)

My understanding is that they are protected from liability if any and all non-obvious hazards are mitigated against, e.g. by clear signage or by restriction of access.  Reservoirs certainly can have non-obvious hazards in them not associated with lakes and rivers, and the signs tend to mention this as well as expressly forbidding swimming etc.

I think that to permit swimming without supervision, and whilst adequately mitigating against the hidden hazards in a reservoir would require more infrastructure to be added to safely fence off all the reservoir-specific bits.  

Still, open water drownings are often very emotionally charged and can bring other sorts of liabilities with them than legal action.  Private legal action remains a liability even if mitigated against because there may be costs in defending against it.  

I could be talking bollox and perhaps they just forbid swimming to be mean...

In reply to Sam W:

> I work in the water industry across the UK, having started off with YW. In general I would say water companies like the idea of people having access to the land they own, good PR, additional customer benefit etc.

> They are also extremely risk averse, and very reluctant to allow anything to go ahead if it has even slight (at times this means vanishingly small) potential to end in injury or fatality. In day to day business this means they spend huge amounts of time and money minimising risk for employees and contractors. When the public are involved it's pretty inevitable that they're not going to allow activities like wild swimming to go ahead.

> While I'd like to think that a pragmatic solution could be found so wild swimming can go ahead, the presence of security guards is more an indication of corporate approach to H&S than a particular wish to stop people having fun

Yorkshire Water own quite a chunk of recreational space where I live.I don't think they realise the importance that this places on them.

Car park facilities, upgrade of paths ,cycle ways,water sports....nothing has changed in years yet more and more people are visiting them.

They don't seem to be reactive to the growing popularity of outdoor space.

Post edited at 22:12
1
 nathan79 09 Jan 2021
In reply to Martin W:

I was up at Threipmuir on Hogmanay. There were 2 keen paddleboarders smashing a route through the ice. And in yesterday's supremely crisp and cold conditions I saw 3 different groups who'd smashed holes through the ice for cold immersion "fun".

 marsbar 09 Jan 2021
In reply to nathan79:

I did the cold water immersion in Finland and it was an amazing experience, but I had a nice sauna to warm up in after.  

In reply to Shaun mcmurrough:

> Yorkshire Water own quite a chunk of recreational space where I live.I don't think they realise the importance that this places on them.

> Car park facilities, upgrade of paths ,cycle ways,water sports....nothing has changed in years yet more and more people are visiting them.

> They don't seem to be reactive to the growing popularity of outdoor space.

They are doing quite a lot but maybe no it your area. As an example I think it's Langsett that has just had the path improved and top hil low has been turned in to a nature reserve. 

It costs a massive amount of money to do things like this, everything is a full on capital scheme rather than getting Bob the builder in to put down a new path and it doesn't help that 10s of millions are currently being spent on extra plant to remove phosphates from the waste water because the EA changed the goal posts (as they often do)

Re reservoir swimming, swim too close to the abstraction point there is a chance of being pulled in, this is very deep down but in low level in summer it may be possible, too close to the overflow sluice in high level wouldn't be good. There are also areas of reduced buoyancy. A lot of reservoirs have air bubbler systems. If you fly over Eccup you will see a patch about 2 meters wide by 20 meters long that stands out from the rest, it's fine Air bubbles coming up from the bottom fed by a compressor that I supplied and service. It's situated close to the main entry point for a large stream that comes in and as the stream water passes through the air its mixed up with the rez water. It massively helps keep the water quality consistent going in to the works. Swim in to it and you will sink. 

Post edited at 08:26
In reply to wintertree:

> Still, open water drownings are often very emotionally charged and can bring other sorts of liabilities with them than legal action.  Private legal action remains a liability even if mitigated against because there may be costs in defending against it.  

I think that's the issue. I can think of of a number of drownings where the local news filmed parents calling for 'someone' to be prosecuted after losing a child (often a teenager or someone in their twenties) drowning in a reservoir.

YW can't win TBH.

 Sam Beaton 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Dax H:

Is reservoir swimming any more objectively dangerous than swimming in the sea though?

In reply to Sam Beaton:

I would say it's far safer than swimming in the sea but the sea isn't owned by anyone. 

Like Ridge says above when someone drowns there are always fingers pointing blame. 2 years ago there were calls for fencing off the river aire and canal in Leeds because a pissed up lad fell in. 

 marsbar 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Sam Beaton:

I'd say it depends which bit of sea.  

In reply to Deleated bagger:

I used to occasionally freedive in a disused quarry near Buxton, which in some complex set-up seemed to be “looked after” on behalf of the landowner , by a water company. I was aware that what we’re doing was essentially civic trespass, and after a few “run-ins” with security there (included thinly veiled threats of damage to parked cars) I just stopped using that quarry (it wasn’t that convenient anyway and for freediving I was uneasy about the isolation of it. I heard that within a couple of years everyone (freedivers, swimmers, dog walkers) stopped using it because security had been stepped up. All sounded fair enough to me but easy for me to say so as I didn’t mind losing that access. The line from security staff was that it was to do with liability 

In reply to Sam Beaton:

> Is reservoir swimming any more objectively dangerous than swimming in the sea though?

Depends on the reservoir. EDIT: Dax H has made some really good points about reservoir hazards, one of which I had absolutely no idea about.

I think the major issue is that Reservoirs are owned by Utilities companies. As such they'll be covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974):

“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

Therefore they have a legal duty of care to protect the public from their “undertaking”, (a huge deep hole they've dug and filled with drowny stuff), in a way that that private land owner who allows access to a crag or lake doesn't. In effect they let people play on their building site / factory floor, and will be investigated and be liable to prosecution by the HSE when somebody drowns.

There may well be ways of allowing access to reservoirs that is safe “so far as is reasonably practicable” for swimming, and it sounds like some utilities companies are doing it already.

I think it's a bit simplistic to simply see it as unnecessarily preventing access for no reason, or part of some concerted campaign to affect access rights.

Post edited at 11:05
 Sam Beaton 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Ridge:

The two Occupiers Liability acts come into it too. But Dax H is hinting at what I was thinking in that more fuss is probably made about swimming in reservoirs than in the sea simply because there is the legal framework in place to blame someone if anything goes wrong.

I think both have the potential to be hazardous but, like most things, those risks can be minimised by knowing what you're doing. I'm less concerned with the legal rights or wrongs of reservoir swimming than I am with how actually risky it is.

 GrahamD 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Ridge:

There is that word "reasonable" again.  I'm surprised the ukc barrack room aren't up in arms about the lack of clarity.

 yorkshire_lad2 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Shaun mcmurrough:

> While you are at it...can you ask if I can mtb round Fewston....😉

I wondered this too.  I was walking round Fewston Res a couple of weeks ago (and it was, as noted elsewhere on this thread, like the M62), and saw a few cyclists, and did wonder about access.  According to the NYCC maps*, the paths round the edge of the reservoir are permissive paths, so you'd have to check the terms of the access.  Others are mostly footpaths, with one or two bridleways around.  Yorkshire Water seems to have created some dedicated bike routes in the vacinity: Google is your friend.

*: NYCC maps: https://maps.northyorks.gov.uk/connect/analyst/mobile/#/main?mapcfg=Out_and_About&x=419231&y=453859&zoom=8

(bearing in mind the usual caveat that the bible of routes is the definitive map etc)

In reply to Blue Straggler:

NB I am aware that my example is about a disused quarry rather than a reservoir but I think the issues/questions of ownership/liability are equally applicable 

 deepsoup 10 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> I could be talking bollox and perhaps they just forbid swimming to be mean...

You seem to be a bit defensive on YW's behalf.  I didn't mean my comment as a dig at them in any way.

Landowners' worries about liability in the case of accidents have often been an issue with access to climbing, and in the case of swimmers in reservoirs I'd guess that climbers in disused quarries is a particularly apt analogy. 

There have been times when access for climbing was improved not by making physical changes to the place but by access reps helping the landowners to realise that they were being more risk-averse than they really needed to be about the possibility of being sued in the case of accidents.

Post edited at 12:12
 mutt 10 Jan 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

Yes to that, but there are plenty of sailing clubs that operate on reservoirs. Queen Marys for instance. It seems to me that what the utility companies can't deal with is the equation Wild == Free. Access is achieved by organising. If the swimmers form a club, have a constitution, provide insurance and safety cover, and address their needs to the utility companies from that point of view I think they would get access.

 wintertree 10 Jan 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

> You seem to be a bit defensive on YW's behalf.  I didn't mean my comment as a dig at them in any way.

You are reading totally the wrong intent in to my messages then, perhaps because we disagree.  It’s good that we can recognise this. I am not trying to defend them.  I want to swim in my local reservoirs. I am trying to understand what motivates them.  I am giving my best interpretation of what the problems and barriers are.

> Landowners' worries about liability in the case of accidents has often been an issue with access to climbing, and in the case of swimmers in reservoirs I'd guess that climbers in disused quarries is a particularly apt analogy.  

It’s very different though, because the barrier to climbing is much higher than to swimming, and a drunk young adult on a hot summers day is much more likely to forget they can’t swim then they can’t climb.  Compare the number of outdoor, inland drownings to rock climbing fatalities - yet outdoor swimming is I think much less common than rock climbing.

As I hinted and Ridge and DaxH expanded on, inland drownings are often accompanied by highly charged relatives demanding Justice and demanding that Something Must Be Done.  When you’ve got a big utility company on the other side, the outcome is very different to a climber dying on access land.  More children drown as well.

I think most inland, outdoor drownings are not of people who were willing participants in a high risk sport, but individuals who made one bad choice.

This significantly changes the risk/liability landscape - including liabilities beyond the legal, when you consider the position and PR exposure of large utility companies.

I think understanding where the issues come from is an important part of moving things forwards.  It does not mean I am in any way defending the utility companies, although if you understand where they’re coming from, you can see why.

Climbing also has the BMC which devotes considerable energy and money on negotiating access.  I’m not aware of a similar effort for swimming.  Outdoors swimming is much more visible and enticing to the general public than climbing which also shifts the risk landscape for landowners.  I’m more cautious since I dived in to the waves on Pfieffer beach, and was followed by two other tourists who if transpired had no idea how to handle themselves when 6’ waves are breaking on them.  

As I said in my first message, I think a solution probably involves specific swimming zones.

I also stand by my specific message you replied to.  Reservoirs have specific hazards - Dax detailed some.  Banning swimming mitigates liability against those hazards.  Allowing it requires significantly more expenditure to mitigate that liability.  Water bills going up for a minority to enjoy swimming?  Hard sell right now to the regulator or the public.

Edit: As mutt says, organisation is the way to go.  National federation of local groups with a central negotiating team and skeleton set of rules/conditions to be tailored to each local group as needed, insurance, and a professional approach that can interact with big utilities.  Contentiously but possibly a minimum competency test, and cold weather wetsuit requirements.  It’s something I’d be willing to get involved in.  I could see this expanding to include staffed swimming zones in summer.

Post edited at 12:27
In reply to yorkshire_lad2:

Thanks for that..good ref.

It's not somewhere I'd go on a weekend,it's rammed.

 MJAngry 10 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

You have also got to remember the primary reason for the Reservoir existing.  

Any leisure persuits are secondary. 

 deepsoup 10 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

That's cool then, I'm glad we're not butting heads.  I agree with much of what you've posted there too.

>  - yet outdoor swimming is I think much less common than rock climbing.

I'm not so sure about that.  No doubt that's true during the winter*, but not so much on a hot summer's day.

* But not true the last couple of times I've been up around Bradfield way.  A handful of swimmers braving the icy waters of Agden reservoir each time, not a soul on the underrated grit of Agden Rocher up the hill.  (I would guess the swimmers might have been members of SOUP - nothing to do with my username, the Sheffield OUtdoor Plungers.)

> I think most inland, outdoor drownings are not of people who were willing participants in a high risk sport, but individuals who made one bad choice.

In terms of legal liabilities and the "volanti non fit injuria" thing, I dunno.  If anything I think it's more widely and generally understood that swimming carries a risk of drowning than it is that climbing (especially forms of climbing perceived as 'low risk', like bouldering) can kill you.

> This significantly changes the risk/liability landscape - including liabilities beyond the legal, when you consider the position and PR exposure of large utility companies.

Regarding PR exposure, it's tempting to say 'so what?'  Bad PR doesn't hurt their bottom line.

But hypothetically* if you were to read the comments under a Daily Mail piece about someone drowning in a reservoir, how many do you think would be blaming the water company?

*Hypothetically!  Never read the comments.

> Climbing also has the BMC which devotes considerable energy and money on negotiating access.  I’m not aware of a similar effort for swimming.

Absolutely.  I'm being pedantic about a point of principle though, and the presence or absence of people advocating a certain point of view doesn't make it more or less right.

> As I said in my first message, I think a solution probably involves specific swimming zones.

There might even be a source of a little bit of revenue there for water companies, or at least the means to make a 'swimming zone' cover its own costs during the summer.

Not a reservoir, but a privately owned artificial structure - there are regular organised outdoor swimming sessions at Salford Quays.  There are also a couple of people who nip down there most mornings for a quick swim independently, unauthorised I guess, but nobody feels the need to lay on a guard with a dog to try and stop them.

> Reservoirs have specific hazards - Dax detailed some.

I think it's easy to overstate them somewhat though.  Reservoirs are not inherently more dangerous than natural bodies of water, especially away from the dam, spillway etc..  The sea is also dangerous, so are rivers.  Innocuous looking little weirs can sometimes be incredibly dangerous.

> Edit: As mutt says, organisation is the way to go. .. Contentiously but possibly a minimum competency test

I'm a member of a club that does this. https://www.mwbc.org.uk They have a lake that was built as part of the remediation works after a colliery was closed down.  During more normal times than these they have organised sessions, but independent access to the lake is allowed for "signed off" members to swim, paddle etc.  They don't allow random members of the public to swim in the lake, have signs up to that effect and make at least a token effort to police it.  No guards or high fences when they're not there though.

The experience isn't the same though, even as a 'signed off' member going down there to play alone, as playing in the "wild".

I don't mean this post to be as argumentative as it comes across reading it back btw.  Just thinking aloud really.  I don't actually have a dog in this fight.  When I do occasionally swim in a reservoir I like it to be away from other people.  Yorkshire Water can't have armed guards everywhere, so until Priti Patel makes it a criminal offence worthy of a long prison sentence I don't really mind at all that it's 'banned'.

 deepsoup 10 Jan 2021
In reply to mutt:

> Access is achieved by organising. If the swimmers form a club, have a constitution, provide insurance and safety cover, and address their needs to the utility companies from that point of view I think they would get access.

That's certainly one way to go.  Individual swimmers can also access 'banned' water the way climbers access 'banned' rock - discreetly.

 deepsoup 10 Jan 2021
In reply to Dax H:

> As an example I think it's Langsett that has just had the path improved and top hil low has been turned in to a nature reserve. 

I was going to mention Langsett as a place where YW have done some good work.  It's suffered a bit during the lockdowns from being a very popular 'honeypot' destination for (mostly) walkers and cyclists, which in a funny sort of a way I think is a measure of their success.

Fewston Reservoir has had a mention here too - it seems only fair to point out that Yorkshire Water are often the saviours of inland white water kayaking in England during the summer with their regular dam releases of water to artificially pump up the Washburn between Thrusscross and Fewston reservoirs.

(Access to the river for paddling isn't free at those times, there's a fee, compulsory insurance etc..  Various paddling clubs generally take it in turns to do the admin on the day, and sometimes run a minibus 'shuttle' service from the get out back round to the start.)

 wintertree 10 Jan 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

I think we are largely in agreement - or at least not violent disagreement - and it's good to understand where each other are coming from.

> I'm a member of a club that does this. https://www.mwbc.org.uk 

There's a club a bit too far from me that does likewise, but as with yours it operates in a somewhat specialist, private lake.  I think the only way practical access to reservoirs is going to happen is with those kind of organisations federated to negotiate access - possibly with new, dedicated ones for the reservoir swimming.

> But hypothetically* if you were to read the comments under a Daily Mail piece about someone drowning in a reservoir, how many do you think would be blaming the water company?

I've seen some of the fall out from some drownings from an institutional perspective (although not as a landowner).  I wouldn't want any of my employees on the receiving end of dealing with the fallout from the drowning of a drunk young adult, or a child whose muscle power is sapped by the cold.  There's a lot more at play than just a lawsuit and the press.

> I think it's easy to overstate them somewhat though.  Reservoirs are not inherently more dangerous than natural bodies of water, especially away from the dam, spillway etc..  The sea is also dangerous, so are rivers.  Innocuous looking little weirs can sometimes be incredibly dangerous.

To repeat my understanding of the problem though, it's not about the relative risks but about the liability issue.  The specific things that make reservoirs dangerous were added by, and are owned by, companies bound by health and safety law.  This creates a direct responsibility to protect people from these things, a responsibility that doesn't exist for the sea or a "natural" river.  This responsibility is currently met by banning swimming.  To meet that responsibility whilst allowing swimming requires more investment one way or another.   It is a nuanced point that I think matters a lot.  Our local sailing club has an agreement with NW and they have a specific area of the reservoir they are allowed in, and they self police.  This is enough to meet that responsibility it seems.  Individual sailors aren't allowed, only through the club, abiding by club requirements and rules.  There's no reason I see that this couldn't work for swimmers.

> When I do occasionally swim in a reservoir I like it to be away from other people.  

There's nothing like the keeping of the now legendary low profile to avoid a brouhaha. 

> There might even be a source of a little bit of revenue there for water companies, or at least the means to make a 'swimming zone' cover its own costs during the summer.

NW have created a great play park at the Derwent reservoir (the Northumberland one), along with a cafe/shop and paid carpark.  They clearly see revenue there and it's a great play park.  As well as revenue there is potential to access charitable funding given the clear public health benefits of open water swimming.  Going in to 2021, I think outdoor swimming will be more important than ever with reduced access and occupancy at indoor facilities, the inherently safer nature of the outdoors re: Covid transmission etc.  The way new variants of the virus are cropping up abroad that are starting to look a bit like they're heading for immune evasion, I think there's going to be a growing market for local leisure/holiday facilities this yet....

 wintertree 10 Jan 2021
In reply to MJAngry:

> You have also got to remember the primary reason for the Reservoir existing.  

Yup.  The minority of climbers who s**t in the woods at Kyloe Out aren't a great problem to anyone beyond their fellow climbers.  If a similar minority started doing it on the shores of water supply reservoirs, this could be a much more serious problem for access.  I doubt it poses much of a health hazard but I also doubt the water companies could permit it.

A lot of our local reservoirs are historic and are now used not for water supply but to moderate river flows especially in winter, and for fishing.

> Any leisure persuits are secondary. 

Indeed, although the water firms are diversifying. Northumbria Water have just build an astronomical observatory at Grassholme for example - although I think that might be coming a bit late after "peak observatory" hit the North East?...

 deepsoup 10 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> I think we are largely in agreement

Yep.

> There's a club a bit too far from me that does likewise..

Unfortunately the club I'm a member of is a bit too far from me under current circumstances too.  It was 'legal' to go there between the last lockdown and this one, but just didn't feel right somehow.  Their lake is not an exciting place to paddle but it's better than nowt.

 deepsoup 10 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> If a similar minority started doing it on the shores of water supply reservoirs, this could be a much more serious problem for access.

You reminded me of this.  It's tempting to cite this as evidence that water companies can sometimes overreact somewhat (just a little bit) to that kind of stuff, but mostly I'm just posting it because it's funny..

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/portland-reservoir-be-drained-after-teen-pees-water-n82901

 MJAngry 10 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Of NWL stock? Only Tunstall isn't used for water supply at present.

Many of the rivers fed can also be extracted, the rivers are used to move the water around. 

Post edited at 15:52
 wintertree 10 Jan 2021
In reply to MJAngry:

> Of NWL stock? Only Tunstall isn't used for water supply at present.

That's my nearest reservoir - walking distance on a nice day.  There's a good dozen or more smaller historic reservoirs on the fell sides beyond the "main" ones.    I don't think these are water board owned however. 

I don't know how much Hisehope and Waskerley actually feed via Smiddy Shaw, or indeed how much Honey Hill actually feeds in to the network these days?

> Many of the rivers fed can also be extracted, the rivers are used to move the water around. 

Indeed - and the tunnels.  Once you start looking for the green metal ventilation / equalisation pipes there's more than you'd think...

 MJAngry 10 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

They do indeed actively feed Honey Hill. Waskerley an important link as it can feed or take directly from the Tyne tees transfer tunnel (and W is also fed directly from burnhope)

Plenty of tunnels and pipes about, like the London underground down there. Or so the plans in my office show. 

Anyway, my original point (not directed at yourself, so much as a good point in the conversation) poorly made was that the reservoirs mostly originally built for water supply. Therefore any extra use we get out of them is a great bonus, but we can't expect parity across sports or reservoirs due to many factors. 

 EdS 10 Jan 2021
In reply to marsbar:

That is correct 

Security at YW reservoirs has been introduced due to the shear number of visitors. 

Dog patrols are not new.... They happened in Operation Trident to

In reply to Sam Beaton:

> Is reservoir swimming any more objectively dangerous than swimming in the sea though?


This is an interesting question. People brought up away from the sea tend to decide it's much more dangerous than stillwater, yet I'd argue that sea swimming in crystal-clear water where you can see the bottom in 30ft of water or inspect the area on foot at low tide is much safer than swimming in something murky where you can't tell what's lurking beneath to snag you.  As always, it's a matter of local knowledge, risk assessment of the venue and the conditions prevailing at the time.


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