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South Australians farewell a historic water icon

South Australia’s Kangaroo Creek is on the rise thanks to consistent rainfall, with locals saying farewell to one of the state’s historic icons until the next dam release.

The historic Batchelor's Bridge in the Kangaroo Creek Reservoir is set to be submerged again after it was temporarily revealed during a planned emptying of the Adelaide Hills water storage earlier in the year.

The mostly-intact Batchelor's Bridge was one of six built in the area between 1912 and 1925, around 40 years prior to construction of the dam, and has attracted unprecedented public interest during the latest release.

SA Water General Manager of Asset Operations and Delivery Mark Gobbie said the rare sight of the bridge attracted many enthusiasts from around the state.

"We estimate around 10,000 people travelled to the look-out on nearby Gorge Road over the three to four months the bridge was visible -– everyone from infrastructure enthusiasts to history buffs to descendants of those who built the bridge," Gobbie said.

"The picturesque natural surroundings at Kangaroo Creek and the sheer size of the dam already make it a popular tourist destination, but it was impressive to see how many people took the opportunity to see a piece of South Australia's history, while they still could."

The 28.8 metre-long bridge was built to convey Gorge Road users across the Torrens, but was abandoned in 1966, just prior to construction of Kangaroo Creek.

Gobbie said releasing the dam allowed SA Water personel to undertake important asset work, with further work planned once the water level rises.

"Bringing the dam to zero capacity this year allowed our contractors to work on a 10,500 square-metre concrete slab on the upstream face of the embankment," Gobbie said.

"As the water level rises again, crews will work on the other side of the embankment, widening its base with 180,000 of the 300,000 cubic metres of rock blasted from the dam spillway.

"It may take another year or so for the reservoir to naturally refill to pre-emptying levels, but until then, the flexibility of our water network means customers usually provided drinking water from Kangaroo Creek can be supplied through another part of the system."

Intended to allow SA Water to better manage major floods and increase the dam's ability to withstand earthquakes, the $94 million Kangaroo Creek Dam safety upgrade began in early 2016 and is on track for completion in late 2019.