Echunga dam holds as water levels reduced

The 10 megalitre dam threatening homes and businesses in the Adelaide Hills township of Echunga has been held overnight with crews managing to reduce the risk of its collapse by pumping water out.

The water level in the dam has been reduced by over two meters overnight, easing fears it could break and flood the town downstream.

SES crew, supported by Police and CFS, worked throughout the night to lower the level of the dam using controlled pumping.

This had to be done with care, to only release water at a rate that did not exceed the capacity of Echunga’s drainage system, otherwise it may still have caused parts of the town to flood.

The SES is consulting with engineers to understand what further works need to take place, and will provide updated information to the community later this morning.

A spokesperson for the SES also said the engineers will assess whether there has been any further slippages in the dam wall overnight.

On Wednesday afternoon, SES incident controller Craig Brassington revealed that 14 properties in the path of the potential floodwaters had residents who refused to heed the evacuation order.

They were doorknocked by SES and SA Police warning them of the risks.

Road closures remain in place but are being assessed, to ensure locals can return to their homes as soon as it is safe to do so.

An Emergency Warning Message remains in place.

Alarms were raised at 5:30am on Wednesday due to a “high risk” that the dam wall 500 meters upstream from the Adelaide Hills town will collapse.

The privately-owned dam is located between Marianna Street and Church Hill Road.

Many residents were evacuated to the Echunga Football Club or left town, while roads into the town have been closed including Aldgate-Strthalbyn Road at Echunga Road, Battunga Road at Meadows Road, Strathalbyn at Sophia Street and Church Hill Road at Old Mount Barker Rd.

30 residents were housed by authorities overnight.

Highly trained personnel from emergency services, including SES Swift Water Rescue Technicians, will remain on site until the risk of flooding has reduced.

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