DOG walkers have been warned to control their pets near the island’s reservoirs or lose the privilege of exercising them there.
The Water and Sewerage Authority, the body responsible for reservoirs, has warned that the practices of dog fouling on land near reservoirs and allowing animals to swim in the water must stop. Unless owners comply with these requests, reservoirs will be closed to the public.
A statement from the authority said: ‘The authority is committed to promoting reasonable access to its reservoirs for the enjoyment and recreation of the public but will not hesitate to take this action if the quality of its water is compromised in any way.’
The authority’s chief executive, Peter Winstanley, said the problem was most evident at the Clypse and Kerrowdhoo Reservoirs.
‘We hope the public will behave responsibly because we don’t want faeces in our water,’ he said.
He added one solution might be to issue a by-law excluding dogs from the land.
‘But we would rather educate people than wield the big stick. We want to alert the public that this is not a good idea, nor is it nice for our maintenance team who have to strim it,’ he said.
He added the risk was if the water purification system failed.
‘They are of excellent quality with back-up systems and sampling, too, but should we be condoning faeces at the side of the reservoir?’ he said.
He said the problem had been highlighted by walkers and by members of the authority’s maintenance team. Nothing had been detected in the drinking water.
Debbie Martin, of Ramsey Dog Training Club, said she would be disappointed to see dogs banned from the reservoir land.
Though she said all dog owners should clear up after their animals, she added: ‘I don’t understand how it is different from geese or other animal contaminants.
‘To close the area would be a great shame because there are fewer and fewer places to go. It needs more emphasis on responsible dog ownership,’ she added.
Jane O’Connor, kennel manager of the MSPCA, echoed the sentiment about responsible ownership.
‘It is the unfortunate few who spoil it for everyone,’ she said.
She also recommended everyone to police the system and tackle those who failed to clean up after their dogs.
‘It’s down to everyone or we end up with nowhere to go,’ she added.
The authority’s official statement said the greatest risk to consumers was harmful micro-organisms associated with water contaminated with faeces from humans or animals.
But it concluded: ‘Continue to walk your dog around the reservoirs but remember to pick up any waste.’