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21 April 1960 Chowilla Dam project

 21 April 1960   Chowilla Dam project

On 21 April 1960 Premier Tom Playford announced plans for a huge water storage dam on the River Murray, 37 miles upstream from Renmark, to be known as Chowilla. The dam was to have an earth bank 3.3 miles long and 41 feet high, with a 1000 foot concrete section built in a channel excavated across a bend in the river. The concrete section would incorporate a shipping lock and 18 flood gates each 41 feet high and 40 feet wide. The lake formed would be 60 miles long, with an average width of 7 miles, and in all would cover 400 square miles - 195 in New South Wales, 160 in Victoria and 45 in South Australia. The estimated cost of the project was approximately £9 million ($18 million). Later estimates suggested that the water would cover 530 square miles at a depth of up to 55 feet.

In 1969 the River Murray Commission recommended that an alternative dam be built at Dartmouth in Victoria. Legislation ratifying this agreement was passed in the Australian, NSW and Victorian parliaments in 1970 and in the South Australian parliament in 1971. The Dartmouth dam was built in the mid 1970s and the Chowilla project was shelved.

The Advertiser, 21 April 1960, pp. 1, 15.
14 Facts about Chowilla,   Premier's Department, c1970.
South Australian Year Book, 1975, p. 373.

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