South Para Reservoir 60th anniversary committee join for Christmas gathering

SA Water Matthew and Leigh Waters with South Para Reservoir anniversary committee members Martin Johnson, Peter Dulmanis, Cathy Young, Tony Lange, Pat Scholefield, Colin Wilksch and Shauna Gejas.
SA Water Matthew and Leigh Waters with South Para Reservoir anniversary committee members Martin Johnson, Peter Dulmanis, Cathy Young, Tony Lange, Pat Scholefield, Colin Wilksch and Shauna Gejas.

Colourful yarns behind SA’s second largest reservoir South Para, built almost 60 years ago at Williamstown, were shared around the table late last month in Gawler.

The gathering at Cafe Nova was hosted by the South Para 60th Anniversary committee who enjoyed a Christmas luncheon in a lead up to celebrations marked for October 13 and 14, 2018.

The site was officially open on October 17, 1958, in response to a large population growth at the end of the 1950s.

According to historic documents held by SA Water, ‘Adelaide’s population of about half a million people was due to postwar immigration with a focus on industrial development’.

For long time Williamstown resident Graham Harris, the 60th anniversary will highlight the efforts he and other loyal workmen like him put into completing and running the site.

The 83-year-old began work in 1954 and was employed in the soils and concrete laboratory.

“I carried out all the surveying on the spillway bridge,” he said.

His newly developed skills enabled him to also work on the Warren trunk main (pipeline) Reservoir, which meant surveying land as far away as Paskeville, with a base a Tarlee.

Mr Harris, who was also instrumental in the Lincoln Gap, near Whyalla, to Iron Knob pipeline, later moved to Thebarton to set up the area’s soils and concrete laboratory.

He eventually ended back on home turf in 1976 and was hand plucked from 20 applicants to become superintendent of South Para, Little Para, Barossa and Warren reservoirs.

Mr Harris retired in 1997 after 40 years service and shared how he looks forward to commemorating the 60th milestone next year.

SA Water historic facts

Construction for South Para Reservoir began in 1949 but wasn't completed until 1958 because of the huge demand on funds and resources post the Second World War.

It cost $6.4 million to construct.

One of the key projects that caused the delay was the Mannum to Adelaide Pipeline.

Because of its size and location in the catchment area, the reservoir fills infrequently.

Already the committee have plans in place of how best they will mark the milestone for the public.

The South Para Reservoir, which closed to the public a few years back, holds 45,330 megalitres. This magnitude means it could supply the whole state for about 77 days.

2018 celebrations

Past employees and the community are now encouraged to mark October 13 and 14 on their calendars when the site will become open to the public to highlight 60 years since the reservoir’s opening.

The committee next meet in early February to fine tune the two-day event.