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Illegal dam construction and modifications causing concern

News release
12 November 2021

Did you know there are over twenty thousand dams across the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula?

Water is a shared and limited resource which is managed by the government on behalf of the community to ensure all water users get a fair share, and no-one takes more than their fair share. Recently, the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board (HFLB) has seen an alarming number of dams either illegally constructed or modified, and this has the potential to negatively impact legitimate water users right across our landscape.

HFLB Team Leader Water Resources, Paul Wainwright, is urging landholders to contact the Board for advice when planning to construct or modify dams on their properties.

“Dams are a common feature in the peri-urban and agricultural landscapes across the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula, providing essential water security and stability for a broad suite of agricultural activities. Our team regularly fields enquiries about new dams, or modifications and repairs to existing dams – all of which are considered water affecting activities. There is an application process involved to ensure any such activities do not negatively impact the water resource, and our team can help navigate that process.”

“Landholders who increase the volume of existing dams or construct new dams without approvals are a risk to all other water users in their catchment,” said Mr Wainwright.

Illegal dam construction or modification is taken very seriously by the Board, who work with high resolution, remote sensing to identify any such work occurring in the landscape. Landholders found to have illegally constructed or modified dams can be compelled to rectify the works at their own cost, and failure to comply can involve a penalty of up to $35,000 for an individual or $70,000 for a body corporate (under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019).

“Getting dam maintenance right can help maximise on-farm water security. The board encourages landholders to reach out if they are planning to carry out modifications to their dams or watercourses,” said Mr Wainwright.

To find out more about water affecting activities, including permit application forms, go to our Water Affecting Activities page or call the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board offices in Mount Barker (8391 7500).


More information

Communications Coordinator

0497 318 706

ben.westmoreland@sa.gov.au