SES worried about Echunga dam failing and flooding town as pumps struggle to reduce water level

| 29.09,22. 01:09 AM |

SES worried about Echunga dam failing and flooding town as pumps struggle to reduce water level


The dam at Echunga that is threatening to fail with the town behind.(ABC News)

A dam wall in the Adelaide Hills town of Echunga is still at risk of collapsing and residents may have to spend at least another 24 hours away from their homes, the South Australian State Emergency Service (SES) says.

The SES said it was trying to reduce the level of water in the private dam by 1.5 metres to reduce pressure on the dam wall, but only has three medium-size pumps that have so far reduced it by 50cm.

An emergency warning remains in place.

Steep hills on the property have made it hard to get a larger pump near the dam, SES district officer Craig Bressington said.

"We're trying to get another larger pump — that's a trailer-mounted pump — but, as you can imagine, it's down in a valley and there's no roads down to it so we're speaking to the council at the moment to see how we can get it down there," he said.

Having the larger pump could cut the time to pump out most of the water from 24 hours to 12 hours, he said.

"The only relief we can do is via the pumps," he said.

Two SES members next to a dam with mud and grass
SES members inspect slippage on the dam wall.(ABC News: Evelyn Manfield)

Echunga is a small town in the Adelaide Hills, about 34 kilometres south-east of Adelaide.

The dam is located on farming land about 500 metres east of the town centre, between Marianna Street and Church Hill Road.

If the path is clear, the SES has urged people to relocate elsewhere outside of the warning area, or to the Echunga Football Club.

A road map with an area highlighted in red
The warning area in Echunga.(Supplied: SA SES)

There was "minor slippage" of the dam wall overnight, and the SES is worried more slippage will happen today.

“Worst case scenario, the main wall of the dam gives way, that's allowing the water obviously to come down into the town," Mr Bressington said.

"You're looking at up to about 30, 40 properties that could possibly be inundated with water."

A town meeting will be held this afternoon and SES members will doorknock the warning area to make sure people have left their homes.

Some have refused to leave despite warnings.

"We just don't want them to be there in case it does collapse and then that's going to be a bigger issue for us," Mr Bressington said.

The dam, about 500 metres upstream of the town, contains about 10 megalitres of water and could flood the area with ankle-deep water.

Pipes draining the town are being used at 60–75 per cent capacity, but Mr Bressington hoped that could be raised to 90 per cent with the larger pump.

Hoses let out water onto green grass with people watching
The owner of the property with SES members letting out water from the dam at Echunga.(ABC News: Dean Faulkner)



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