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News Maryland Baltimore County Towson

Loch Raven, Prettyboy and Liberty reservoirs off limits to swimmers

It may be cool, it may be refreshing and it's certainly tempting ... but it's illegal.

No matter how warm it gets, swimming in the reservoirs in Baltimore County is not allowed.

With temperatures hitting near 100 over the past few days, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works — which oversees and operates the Loch Raven, Prettyboy and Liberty reservoirs — is reminding people that those caught swimming can be charged with trespassing and face a $1,000 fine and a criminal record.

Officials say that in 2011, there were 222 citations issued for illegal swimming.

A release from the public works department notes that, "The three reservoirs offer beautiful scenery with opportunities for biking, hiking, bird watching, boating and fishing. Reservoirs, however, are not safe for swimming and doing so can lead to tragedy."

The department noted that the reservoirs have rapid drop-offs, currents, hidden rocks and branches. Also, officials said, temperatures in the deep area drop quickly, and diving into them can actually even lead to hypothermia, even in summer temperatures.

"No Swimming" warning signs are posted at each of the three reservoirs and also at Druid Lake, Lake Montebello and Lake Ashburton.

All three reservoirs are patrolled by DPW's Environmental Police — full-time police officers with full authority to arrest violators. Violators can be fined up to $1,000 and jailed.

The department noted that drownings have occurred at the reservoirs. In 2010, three young people died in three separate incidents within six weeks.

The department noted that when enjoying the reservoirs, parents should supervise children at all times, and should make sure older children are aware of the dangers and legal consequences of swimming in the reservoirs.

To reach reservoir police officers, dial 911 and request the "Environmental Police."

While the reservoirs are off-limits, you can click here for information about public beaches in Baltimore County.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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