An emergency warning has been issued for a country town in the Adelaide Hills, as a possible dam failure threatens homes and lives.
The Echunga dam, located about 35 minutes from Adelaide, is at “high risk” of failure, posing a threat to the safety of residents in the surrounding area.
The SA State Emergency Service has urged those in the immediate path to relocate, with an emergency gathering point at the Echunga Football Club.
“Emergency Warning MESSAGE issued for dam failure at Echunga,” the SES wrote.
“If you are in this area, prepare for flooding. Relocate outside the warning area.”
The dam is about half a kilometre away from the main township of Echunga, which had a 2021 population of less than 2000.
An SES spokesperson said the walls of the dam were sagging on one side.
As of Wednesday morning, more than a dozen SES members were working at the scene.
SA Police has closed of all surrounding roads, including Aldgate-Strathalbyn Rd at Echunga Rd, Echunga Rd at Aldgate-Strathalbyn Rd, Battunga Rd at Meadows Rd, Strathalbyn Rd at Sophia St and Churchill Rd at Old Mount Barker Rd.
Police said floodwaters would rise rapidly and likely be fast moving.
Senior Constable Kylie Simpson on Wednesday told ABC Radio that up to 20 people were in high-risk areas and had been contacted by emergency services.
“Initially, it was said there’s about 80 homes around the area, but 15 or 20 are in this sort of high-risk zone,” Constable Simpson said.
“It’s a big dam and it’s on a hill, so the water will run down. They have been spending some time overnight trying to cut in and direct the water, but unfortunately that hasn’t worked.”
The dam, on a private farm between Marianna St and Church Hill Rd, is holding about 10 megalitres of water, likely due to recent heavy rainfall.
SES state duty officer David O’Shannessy said engineers were on the scene assessing the situation as they worked on lowering the level of the dam
“We are currently working through the process to determine how many people will be affected,” he said.
For those in the area that require SES assistance, phone 132 500.