Anglian Water is warning people not to be tempted to jump in and take a swim in one of its reservoirs this summer.
Anyone ignoring the warning would be breaking the law and could be risking their life as well as that of others. Those caught face the very real possibility of a £500 fine.
“The prospect of diving into a calm-looking reservoir on a scorching hot day is understandably appealing,” said Simon Waters, Head Warden at Alton Water near Ipswich, “but these are operational sites, many of which are quite isolated. Swimming in them can be incredibly dangerous for even the strongest swimmers.”
“Reservoirs are many metres deep in places and the bottom is not a consistent depth, with many sudden dips and drops. Even during the summer, water temperature in reservoirs stays very low and can cause shock or hypothermia. It doesn't matter how good a swimmer you are, swimming in reservoirs is simply a dangerous thing to do.”
At Alton Water there has also been a rise in the number of complaints about antisocial behaviour, including people jumping off of Lemon’s Hill Bridge and tampering with the safety equipment.
Over the past couple of years Ipswich Police have been working in partnership with Anglian Water to try address this issue.
Police Constable Gary Austin from Babergh East Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “This is an ongoing problem which reoccurs every year once the weather starts to improve. Jumping from bridges and cliff tops is very dangerous. You only have to read on the Internet to see how many people have been paralysed or killed by such dangerous pursuits.
“There are so many factors that make it highly unsafe including the fact that the water may be shallower than it seems or objects that are submerged under the water that cannot be seen.
“I deeply urge people to stop jumping from the bridge for their own safety and the safety of those that may try to jump in and help them.”
For those who would like to get out on the water, there are a number of safe ways to get wet this summer. Alton Water Sports Centre offers a number of classes and equipment hire so people can sail, windsurf and row safely, under supervision to minimise risks.
Simon Waters continued: “We are always happy to welcome visitors to any of our water parks and we want everyone to be able to enjoy the facilities and picturesque surroundings we have to offer. It’s important that everyone is free to enjoy the parks safely, by using some common sense we can make sure everyone has an excellent summer.”