Fifty years bridge the gap for dam builder David


Fifty years bridge the gap for dam builder David

As the Kangaroo Creek Reservoir emptied to reveal the old Bachelor’s Bridge, one of the original dam builders, David Owen, returns to bridge the gap of time as Site Supervisor for the dam’s recent upgrade.

David was just 18 in 1968 when he started work as a truck driver on the Kangaroo Creek Dam construction working for sub-contractor, SA Sand and Metal.

"It was one of my first jobs, transporting concrete skips to build the spillway. I enjoyed it so much it’s the reason I’ve spent my career in civil construction," said David.

His career since then has been impressive. For 28 years, David worked for Adelaide company, Tolmer Earth Movers, working his way from Plant Operator to Supervisor of Operations. He then moved to Bardavcol where he has been working as a site supervisor on numerous projects for the past 14 years.

"I worked on both the South Para and Little Para Reservoir upgrades as Senior Site Supervisor, so when Bardavcol was awarded the Kangaroo Creek Dam Upgrade project, I guess I was earmarked as an obvious choice," said David.

The $94 million upgrade to Kangaroo Creek Dam began in early 2016 and is scheduled for completion end of 2019. To align with updated safety guidelines, the dam wall will be raised and the spillway widened, enabling the dam to better withstand major flood events and earthquakes.

Fifty years have passed between David’s first job at Kangaroo Creek and this one, and a lot has changed.

"Grading used to be done with batter boards and string lines, but today it’s all done with satellite surveys and GPS," said David.

"New technology has made us much more efficient and what would have taken a year, we can now do in three months."

David also appreciates the increased focus on safety.

"When I was young, the focus on safety was impressive, but now it’s paramount! There’s been great communications between Bardavcol, its sub-contractors and SA Water to ensure we’re all on board and working safely. It’s been excellent."

"Fifty years ago there were no flashing lights, reversing beepers or guardrails, and the creature comforts for operators today are second to none."

So what hasn’t changed?

"Not a lot, but it can still get pretty cold and miserable out there in the hills in the middle of winter."

David has seen out two winters since the upgrade project began and plans on toughing out another two, to see the project through to its conclusion in late 2019.

However, he does admit to having retirement on his mind.

"But I can’t just stop, I need to be involved in things. I have a 24 year old son and 12 year old daughter who’s at that age when she needs a dad, so I’ll be able to spend more time with her," he said.

"And yeah, I reckon I’d like to go on a cruise as well!"

"When I think about Kangaroo Creek, it’s with a sense of great satisfaction knowing I’ve been involved in the construction of one of South Australia’s most important civil structures."

For further information contact SA Water’s media team on 08 7424 2477.





For media enquiries, please call or email SA Water’s media team:

Phone: (08) 7424 2477
Mobile: 0477 300 197 (24/7)

For all other SA Water-related enquiries, please call our Customer Care Centre on 1300 SA WATER (1300 729 283).

Search the media centre

By keyword:

By date range:

From calendar icon
To calendar icon