September Reservoir Hazards Survey: Please Take Part
05th August, 2022
Many swim in reservoirs, especially in areas of the country where there are few alternative places to swim, but there is a dominant narrative in England and Wales that there are many hidden hazards. A dry summer when water levels are low is an ideal time to gather information on potential hazards that could affect swimmers safety.
So a group of Yorkshire swimmers have put together a survey and are asking anyone who swims or visits reservoirs anywhere in the UK and would like to help to complete a survey during September, including providing photos showing any machinery or hazards or the general scene if there are none.
The findings could help swimmers keep themselves safe, could provide evidence on whether there are these dangers, and should help in negotiating better swimmer access.
For these reasons, please consider doing the survey. Once you have your photos and location details doing the survey online should only take 5-10 minutes. You do need a Google account.
At the reservoir: Take photos of (a) the sign/information board, (b) the general view/reservoir as a whole, and (c) any machinery or other hazards you see. If you do not see hazards, please make sure you take a few different general photos (from different angles) to show this clearly. Check its grid reference, Google Map pin and/or What3Words location.
Then complete this survey online and upload the most useful photos.
The Outdoor Swimming Society took part in the Kinder Trespass 2022 to put forward the case for access in reservoirs.
And The OSS has outlined the case for reservoirs being suitable swim locations, as they are generally able to take large numbers with less risk of damaging the environment, and can be as safe as any other water, for swimmers taking account of all the usual risks of swimming outdoors of course, and has put together some information to help swimmers understand reservoir safety. This survey will allow more detailed information to be available.
There is currently little or no reliable public information about reservoir hazards. Reservoir operators do not have this information or do not share it publicly. However, they often prohibit swimming, based on known or claimed hazards that cannot be seen. Many swimmers mistrust claims about ‘underwater machinery’ and other hazards, but lack reliable information or evidence to counter these claims and keep themselves safe. This survey recognises that swimmers are a powerful force for ‘crowdsourcing’ the information we need.
Findings from the survey will be collated and analysed and made public. Volunteers are invited to help with this process, particularly if they have data analysis skills. For more information on how to assess the reservoir you visit and to complete the survey, please go to the Swimmers Reservoir Hazards Survey form
- Understanding Reservoirs: an OSS Survive feature that helps educate swimmers on the real dangers in reservoirs and how to avoid them
- The case for access to swim at reservoirs is shared by OSS campaigner, Owen Hayman, 16 reasons for swimming access in reservoirs, while also dispelling many myths.
- See also the Bluespace Charter for Responsible Access to Reservoirs
- A group of Yorkshire swimmers have also produced a presentation, the Swimmers’ Perspective presentation for Yorkshire Water
- Join the Inland Access Group – The Outdoor Swimming Society if you want to push for better access or want advice in negotiating access in your area.
- Download The OSS Access Guide to establishing new inland bathing areas, which includes examples where access to reservoirs and other waters has been negotiated by the group.
Imogen Radford, August 2022