Plea to stop vandalism of life-saving equipment at Greenbooth Reservoir

Date published: 25 June 2020

Vandals are putting lives at risk after United Utilities has seen a spike in throwline equipment at a Rochdale reservoir being damaged.

The water company is pleading with visitors to Greenbooth reservoir in Norden to enjoy the beautiful setting, but to stay out of the water and not to tamper with the throwline equipment which provides advice on how to help in an emergency and pinpoints an accurate location for fire and rescue services.

The throwline boards being damaged are often dedicated to people who have tragically drowned in the waters.

Paul Lawson
Paul Lawson

The throwline at Greenbooth was installed last year in memory of Paul Lawson, who drowned in the reservoir in June 2017.

16-year-old Paul was a first-year BTEC Sport student at Hopwood Hall college and keen footballer. Having previously played for Wardle FC, Paul was a member of the Hopwood Hall Football Academy team at Middleton Campus when he when he died.

Swimming in reservoirs and other restricted inland waters is a problem that results in injuries and hundreds of tragic deaths every year.

This is because no matter how hot the weather may be, the temperature of a reservoir rarely rises above 11°C, meaning jumping into a reservoir can cause cold water shock which can kill even the fittest of people within 60 seconds.

Hidden currents from water pipes below the surface and hidden obstacles such as machinery for water treatment also presents a hidden but deadly risk. 

Tragically over 700 people in the UK and Ireland drown every year in open waters including reservoirs.

Paula Steer, director of health and safety and estate management at United Utilities, said: “This kind of vandalism is not fun, it really can put people’s lives at risk.

“Our message has always been clear, people should never take the risk and swim in a reservoir, but at some locations we have life-saving equipment should the unthinkable happen.

“It is sad to see the damage done to this vital equipment, which some day may be needed by a friend or family member of those who carry this out.”

As teenagers are statistically the most likely to venture into reservoirs, United Utilities has launched a downloadable education pack to help parents and young people understand just how dangerous taking a dip can be.

“To help young people understand the importance of reservoir safety, we have created a new learning pack to educate them on the dangers of swimming in a reservoir in a fun and engaging way,” added Paula.

To download United Utilities’ reservoir safety education pack, visit: 

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