This Friday, SA Water along with specialised contractors, will endeavour to safely retrieve a vehicle from the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier.
The car was involved in an emergency incident at the site in early August, in which it ended up partially-submerged along the western side of the lake.
SA Water’s Senior Manager of Production and Treatment Lisa Hannant said the removal process is being carefully planned and managed, with safety of the community and those involved in the operation of the utmost importance.
“This is a significant exercise, which will involve the use of divers who will float the car to the offtake area near our pumping station, for retrieval by a 220 tonne crane,” Lisa said.
“We’ve spent the past few weeks working through the complexities of this task. It has been imperative to take the time to consider all potential risks, and use the knowledge of our local teams and the expertise of those outside SA Water who have experience in similar activities.
“We have engaged companies from the South East and just across the border in north-west Victoria – Mount Gambier’s Sharp Cranes, Sunraysia Cranes from Mildura/Horsham and Professional Diving Services from Portland.
“While we understand the community interest in this very unique event, we urge people who may head along to the lake tomorrow, to remain in the public access areas, so our team and contractors can do their job safely.
“We are also closely monitoring the weather forecast and will only proceed with the lift if the winds are too strong. The exercise will go ahead when conditions are deemed safe by our team and the crane operator.”
As was done as a precautionary measure when the car first entered the water, Mount Gambier’s drinking water supply will be temporarily switched to being sourced from the local borefield during tomorrow’s exercise.
“The water will remain safe to drink, but some customers may notice a slight difference in taste and/or colour,” Lisa said.
“In keeping with our standard procedures, SA Health will be notified of the change in source, as well as the local hospital and any critical customers.
“All sampling and testing to date of water from the Blue Lake shows no signs of contamination as a result of the car’s presence in the lake. Containment measures will continue to be in place around the car, and monitoring will be undertaken throughout the removal process.
“We will also be taking water samples from the lake after the operation is complete, to test in our labs. Test results are expected to be available on Saturday, and if all clear, the water supply will then return to being sourced from the Blue Lake.”
Localised traffic management will be in place on John Watson Drive, from Bay Road to Sunnyside Drive, for both today’s preparation works and the retrieval process tomorrow. Car parking may also be restricted at times from Bay Road to Crouch Street South. Signs and traffic management personnel will be on site to direct traffic through and around this area on Thursday from 12pm to 6pm and Friday from 7am to 3pm.