Woodburn Reservoir damaged by post-Christmas testing of new scrambler bikes, says NI Water
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And with a similar problem identified at Conlig Reservoir in Co Down, NI Water says it is leading to major concerns for public safety and the impact on the dam structures.
The company has issued a strong appeal to the community to help stop antisocial behaviour at the two locations.
Gary Presho, NI Water Supply area manager, said: “The increase in damage at some NI Water reservoir sites indicates that some people may have received motorcycles as Christmas presents this year and are using some of our reservoirs to test them to the limit, especially during the darker evenings.
“NI Water strictly prohibits the use of scramblers or quad bikes across all of our sites. The walking trails through the forests and around the dams are used by families on a regular basis and with motorbikes also using these trails it is an accident waiting to happen.
“Not only are they endangering public safety, they are also causing damage to the reservoir embankments. The damage caused shows that grassland has been badly cut up and with the recent adverse weather and heavy rain we could well start to see erosion which could impact on the structural integrity of the dam.
"It is not possible to repair the grass until ground conditions improve. The reservoir safety team are therefore carefully monitoring for early signs of erosion, but further damage will only accelerate the erosion. This may well result in the need to drain the reservoirs concerned until repairs are completed.”
In November of last year, NI Water also warned scrambler damage to Woodburn Reservoir embankments was leading to concerns for public safety and water services. It has put in place further security measures in an attempt to thwart those behind the damage.
“While some individuals see this as harmless fun, we appeal that they stop this dangerous activity immediately before there is a need to drain these reservoirs or a serious accident.
“Security patrols have been put in place to identify those involved. Any motorcycles using the sites, or vehicles observed offloading motorcycles will be reported with a view to legal action being taken against the perpetrators.
“We are also actively working with local community representatives and with the PSNI to find a permanent solution. NI Water will consider ceasing public access to the areas if such activity continues.
“NI Water depends on the common sense and goodwill of those using the sites to treat them with respect. We understand people want to make the most of these scenic areas, but we would ask everyone to use them respectfully and be mindful that other users want to enjoy the areas safely too.
“We would also ask the public to help us report any scrambler activity or vandalism to the PSNI on 101, Waterline 03457 440088 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."