Local youths putting themselves in danger at Jack Taylor Weir21-Dec-2016
Jack Taylor Weir has again been the scene of young people trespassing and putting their lives at risk, with a number of alarming incidences of dangerous behaviour being reported to police in recent weeks.
Warning signs and fencing at the SunWater-owned weir will not deter some; groups of children as young as seven are entering restricted areas and jumping from the bridge into unpredictable waters.
SunWater Service Manager Justin Schultz said he fears most young people are unaware of how dangerous weirs are and that it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or loses their life.
“When you understand the dangers of weirs, it’s horrifying to think what could happen. The risks I’ve witnessed local kids taking would make any parent’s stomach churn,” said Mr Schultz.
“I’ve found children swimming in the dissipater - a cement structure below the weir that acts like a whirlpool - and could easily trap someone under the force of the water.
“When large volumes of water are flowing over the weir, water flowing over the person makes it almost impossible to escape or be rescued.
“I’ve also seen a number of children climbing over the handrail of the bridge and jumping into the concrete lined water pool, upstream of the weir.
“The most dangerous aspect of a weir is the unpredictable nature of the water and the submerged concrete structures. You never know when water will be released and you can’t see the concrete structure below the murky water.”
Mr Schultz says swimming ability doesn’t make a difference when it comes to reducing your risk: “Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with being a good swimmer. Water over a weir is like being dumped by a constant barrage of water and can pin you underneath making it very hard to escape or be rescued,” he said.
Local Police Sergeant Paul Tabrett said it’s up to everyone in the community to take ownership of the issue and look out for dangerous behaviour.
“The last thing we want to see is a fatal incident at Jack Taylor Weir or any other weir. It’s important that parents have conversations with their kids so they understand the extreme risks of entering restricted areas,” said Sergeant Tabrett.
“A lot of young people to see weirs as a water wonderland, but the reality is that it only takes ankle deep water to knock you off your feet and 60 seconds to drown.
“There are some great outdoor spots for kids to enjoy over the school holidays – including a designated swimming area about 250 metres upstream of the weir.” Anyone who witnesses life-threatening behaviour at SunWater weirs, dams or channels is urged to report it to the local Police by calling 000. For all non-urgent reporting, please contact Police link 13 14 44.
For tips on keeping safe when visiting a dam or weir this holiday season, view the ‘Safety tips when visiting a dam’ brochure available on the SunWater website.
SunWater Media Team
Phone: +61 7 3120 0047