Independent Member for Kavel Dan Cregan has called on the State Government better support private dam owners who face engineering challenges and a risk of flooding nearby communities.
The Department for Environment and Water has been undertaking a review of thousands of dams across South Australia, finding 460 dams in the Hills Fleurieu region could pose a risk to people, infrastructure and industries, if they were to burst.
The risk to communities is based on their location, not structural integrity; the highest risk areas are in Woodside, Lenswood and Lobethal. Many of the dams were were built in the 1950s or 1960s, before planning controls were in effect.
The investigation follows a close call in Echunga last September, when authorities spent days preventing a bursting private dam from releasing 9 to 10 megalitres of water into the nearby township. A spillway was created by emergency services workers and technicians,to allow water to drain away from the dam in a controlled manner.
After authorities have warned dam owners that they are “accountable” for damage from any structural failures in future, Cregan says that he is hopeful additional funds will hit the ground, after raising the issue with the Deputy Premier Susan Close.
The guideline and resources for how to carry out a maintenance inspection and what to do in an emergency situation are available at ses.sa.gov.au/flood/during-a-flood/dams/. The South Australian State Emergency Services (SASES) can be reached on 132 500 in the case of a flood or storm emergency.
Photo of Echunga dam, supplied by SA SES