Scottish Water is reminding Three Towns residents to play it safe in or near rivers and reservoirs this summer.
the school holidays begin, the water company is asking locals not to
take risks and is calling on parents to make sure children take care
near water during any spells of warm weather we might enjoy.
timely warning comes as the first anniversary approaches of the tragic
deaths of Saltcoats man Sean Marshall (20) and 17-year-old Ross Munn
from Ardrossan who drowned after getting into difficulties while
swimming at the Mill Dam reservoir (pictured above) north of Ardrossan
Following the untimely deaths of the two friends,
locals raised a petition calling on Scottish Water to fence-off the
reservoir, which is no longer used as part of the public water-supply
system. However, at the time, a representative of Scottish Water told
the3towns that legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament actually
prevents the company from erecting fencing around the reservoir or from
even putting-up ‘No Swimming’ signs.
The legal prohibition is an
unintended consequence of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which was
introduced to stop private landowners from preventing public access to
large swathes of the Scottish countryside and hills. The legislation
provides public access rights to all land and inland waterways, with a
few stated exceptions, which means that Scottish Water would be breaking
the law if it erected fences that prevented the public from accessing
the area around the Mill Dam.
Latest figures from the National
Water Safety Forum show that in the last full year for which figures are
available, 371 people drowned accidentally across the UK, of which 43
were children or young people up to the age of 19. Of the 371
drownings, the majority - 203 - took place in inland waters, including
rivers, canals, lochs, streams, ponds and reservoirs.
McKenzie, Scottish Water’s Regional Communities Team Manager for the
local area, said, “While it’s important that youngsters enjoy their
school holidays and that people across Scotland take pleasure in the
country’s beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, it’s also vital that
they stay safe.
“We are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking adults to act responsibly around watercourses.”
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is backing Scottish
Water’s call. Carlene McAvoy, the organisation’s Community Safety
Development Officer for Scotland, said, “During periods of hot weather
and school holidays, there is often a rise in the number of accidental
drownings, which is why it is important to be extra vigilant around
“The water can be a lot colder than expected,
which can lead to a swimmer going into cold shock: in the worst case, a
swimmer will inhale water and the drowning process begins. There may
also be strong currents and underwater debris that you cannot see from
the bank, so don’t go alone, and consider how you are going to get out
of the water before you get in - be honest about your swimming ability.
"The safest option is to go swimming at properly-supervised sites, such as beaches or swimming pools.”
Scottish Water points out that reservoirs are man-made features which,
because of their purpose, have unique dangers such as dams, overflows
and hidden underwater pipes that take water out of the reservoir. Other
dangers include reeds, strong currents, steep banks and deep, cold