Echunga dam level reduced by 2 metres, but emergency warning still in place for Adelaide Hills township

A dam threatening to fail near the Adelaide Hills town of Echunga has been drained to a level below what the State Emergency Service (SES) had previously said would make it safe.

But a dam failure emergency warning is still in place for the town until engineers can assess the situation this morning.

SES district officer Craig Bressington yesterday said the aim was to reduce the level of water in the dam by 1.5 meters to relieve pressure on the failing dam wall.

The dam is about 500 meters upstream from Echunga, with up to 40 houses possibly flooded if the dam wall fails.

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

Early this morning, Penny Kazla from the SES said controlled pumping of the dam had reduced the water level while also not overloading drains under Echunga.

“SES have now been able to reduce the level of the water in the dam by over 2 meters and are consulting with engineers to understand what further works need to take place and then provide updated information to the community later this morning,” she said.

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

“An emergency warning message remains in place.”

“By the look of it [the threat] is reduced,” she said, but noted that engineers would have to confirm this.

The current emergency warning expires at 10am.

A man wearing an orange outfit with waders steps from a truck
The SES still has swift water rescue technician in Echunga in case of flooding.(ABC News: David Frearson)

Residents who had left the emergency warning area had to stay away from their homes overnight, although some had decided not to heed the warning issued yesterday morning.

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

Steep hills on the property made it difficult to get a large pump near the dam but a fourth pump was added to the effort yesterday afternoon.

The dam previously contained about 10 megalitres of water and could flood the area with ankle-deep water.

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