44-13 An Underground Reservoir in Park 4

Alongside the red brick building is a large earth mound. Hidden underneath this earth mound is an impressive feat of engineering that dates back to the year 1878.

It is a 4.7 megalitre water tank, a reservoir, that is still in use more than 140 years after it was installed. In fact, it forms a critical part of the Adelaide Water supply network, supplying approximately 100,000 people throughout Adelaide.

It was originally constructed in 1878 and linked to the Thorndon Park reservoir in Adelaide's north-east. At the time, there was a “Hydraulic Engineers Office” that had responsibility for water services and assets for South Australia. The tank's initial role was to service and increase the pressure for the Port Adelaide area, which had water mains connected a few years earlier in 1865.

The increase in pressure, from this tank, allowed for the improvement of the sewerage system in Port Adelaide.

The tank is constructed of brick with an arched roof, supported by 48 columns, with a concrete floor and soil mounded over. The tank also includes drains to dispose of water that pools in the arches. Since 1878, little has changed to the internal structure of the tank.

In 2017, SA Water hired contractors to improve drainage above the tank roof and treat some cracks in the tank structure. Having done that work, the tank was considered good to continue in service for decades more.

The red brick building is used for adding chlorine to the water tank. Chlorine is a disinfectant. Its use safeguards public health, by killing disease-causing pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. 

The tank has been provisionally entered on the State Heritage Register. The South Australian Heritage Council noted:

“The quality of its design and construction were remarkable for its time and function; the utilitarian building being constructed using piers and arcades more commonly seen in grand neoclassical structures, creating a ‘cathedral-to-water’.”

Now walk further south, until you rejoin Barton Terrace East.

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