Engineers inspected the dam today, on private property on the outskirts of town, and declared it safe.
The emergency began late Tuesday afternoon when the alarm was raised that a wall of the dam was on “high risk” of collapse.
While it was first estimated that the dam would hold about 10 megaliters, or 10 million liters equal to 10,000 tons of weight, today the SES said the dam capacity was now estimated to be between 10 and 14 megaliters.
Emergency services deployed four powerful water pumps to lower the water level. The operation had to be done with care, with water was released at a rate that did not exceed the capacity of the city’s drainage system and was at risk of flooding.
Some residents sandbags into the ground when authorities warned the city would be hit by a dam burst.
Roads to Echunga were closed and many residents evacuated their homes and sought shelter at a local sports club, with more than 30 forced to seek emergency shelters Wednesday night.
The SES said today that it and other agencies had identified “80 houses in Echunga that could have been affected if the dam collapsed quickly”.
“It is estimated that the dam held between 10 and 14 megaliters of water, roughly equivalent to five Olympic-sized swimming pools,” it said.
SES incident controller Craig Brassington said this afternoon that more than 100 volunteers assisted in the operation.
“The SASES acted quickly and efficiently when they were informed on Tuesday evening of the possible collapse of an earth wall of the private dam,” he said.
“Our priority is always the safety of local communities and minimizing potential impacts on life and property.”
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