Paradise Dam

Paradise Dam is approximately 20km north-west of Biggenden and 80km south-west of Bundaberg on the Burnett River. It is a key component of the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme.

Damage to Paradise Dam during the 2011 and 2013 floods was more significant than expected. Since then, Sunwater has been working to repair and improve the dam. The dam has a number of structural issues that need to be addressed:

  • strength of the roller compacted concrete
  • the poor foundation material under the secondary spillway
  • poor extent of protection works at the base and downstream of the dam.

During 2020 and early 2021 Sunwater lowered the primary spillway and installed a temporary concrete crest to improve the safety of the dam for people living downstream. Further work is required to strengthen and stabilise the dam to meet current dam safety requirements and ensure it delivers the water security the region needs now and into the future.

Paradise Dam Improvement Project

In December 2021, the Queensland Government announced the preferred option for the long-term future of Paradise Dam is to return the dam to its original full supply level, as part of significant safety improvement works.

This decision was made after considering the Options Evaluation Report (PDF, 6.0MB), and feedback from key stakeholders in the community and industry.

This option will provide a safe dam and water security for the region.

Options Evaluation Report

In fixing the dam, the Queensland Government’s first priority is the safety of the downstream community. It has worked with Sunwater to investigate the remediation of Paradise Dam to comply with the provisions of the Australian National Committee for Large Dams (ANCOLD) and Queensland Guidelines on Acceptable Flood Capacity.

An Options Evaluation Report was completed in October 2021. It  investigated options to ensure adequate and secure water supply to meet demand for decades to come and support regional growth in the Bundaberg area and the surrounding region.

This report builds on the previous findings within the Paradise Dam Options Assessment completed by Building Queensland in February 2020.

Key activities that informed the report were

  • geotechnical investigations and 3D geological modelling of the dam foundations
  • sampling and testing of the roller compacted concrete in the primary and secondary spillway
  • anchoring trials to confirm the capacity of the foundations
  • detailed demand assessment and water resources assessment, including assessment of various other investigations relevant to the dam
  • refinement of the concept designs for the options identified in the options assessment.

These activities were supported by independent technical peer reviews from national and international experts.

Economic impact assessment

An economic impact assessment (PDF, 323.3KB) was also undertaken to provide additional analysis and information.

The report confirmed that the irrigated agriculture sector is expanding in the Bundaberg region and will continue to be a significant contributor to the economy.

Consultation

The Queensland Government and Sunwater have worked closely with the Bundaberg community and irrigators to ensure the issues of safety and water security were carefully considered in the government’s decision

Extensive stakeholder engagement has been undertaken through Sunwater’s stakeholder engagement forums - the Paradise Dam Industry Forum and associated working groups and the Paradise Dam Community Reference Group.

Stakeholder engagement will continue during the next phase of the project.

Next steps

Sunwater will lead the next stage of the project, which includes progressing design, environmental and planning approvals, early contractor engagement, and procurement activities necessary before major works can commence.

A detailed project timeframe will be developed as part of this next stage and, early works are expected to commence in 2023, followed by major works at the dam commencing in 2024, subject to Queensland and Australian government approvals.

Sunwater will continue investigating constraints within the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme’s existing distribution network to support the region’s diversification and expansion into high value crops.

Commission of inquiry

The Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry report was delivered to government on 30 April 2020.

The Queensland Government publicly released the report and the Queensland Government’s response (PDF, 300.4KB) on 21 May 2020.

All 8 of the Commission’s recommendations have been adopted.

The Queensland Dam Safety Management Guidelines have been updated following a thorough review process with input from dam owners and operators, and independent technical reviewers.

The updated guidelines apply to all new referable dams and upgrades of existing referable dams in Queensland.

Find out more about the Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry.

Amendments to water-sharing rules

In March 2020, the Queensland Government approved Sunwater’s application to amend the water-sharing rules to maximise allocations in the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme.

From 1 July 2020, Sunwater’s existing unsold water allocations were removed from the Burnett River sub-scheme announced allocation formula.

These amendments have maximised the amount of water available to farmers and businesses throughout the region.

For more information on water allocations for the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme, visit the Sunwater website.

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Last updated: 24 Dec 2021