Paradise Dam

Paradise Dam is located 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.

During the 2013 floods, extensive scour occurred downstream of the primary spillway. Sunwater immediately repaired the scour and downstream toe of the dam, and investigated options to prevent scour occurring in future extreme weather events.

Sunwater’s program of essential works for Paradise Dam has improved the safety of the dam for people living downstream. These are temporary measures and a solution is still needed to bring it to an acceptable level of safety long term.

Paradise Dam Improvement Project

The Queensland Government is committed to delivering a long-term solution for Paradise Dam that meets the demand for water in the Bundaberg area while reaching the safety standards to which all water infrastructure must comply. The Paradise Dam Improvement Project is how we’re meeting that commitment.

A detailed business case to fix Paradise Dam is being prepared that will allow the government to make a decision on the future of the dam by the end of 2021.

Detailed business case

In fixing the dam, our first priority must be the safety of the downstream community. We are developing a detailed business case, in conjunction with Sunwater, to investigate the remediation of the Paradise Dam to comply with the provisions of the Australian National Committee for Large Dams (ANCOLD) and Queensland guidelines on acceptable flood capacity.

The business case will also investigate options to ensure adequate and secure water supply to meet demand and support regional growth in Bundaberg and the surrounding region. It will build on the Paradise Dam Options Assessment completed by Building Queensland in February 2020. This options assessment ruled out decommissioning Paradise Dam.

The Queensland Government has engaged an experienced team of independent technical experts and project managers to lead the development of the business case.

Key activities currently underway to inform the best way forward for the dam’s remediation include:

  • 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 will be supported by independent technical peer reviews from national and international experts.


Extensive stakeholder engagement is being undertaken throughout the detailed business case, including through Sunwater’s stakeholder engagement forums - the Paradise Dam Industry Forum and associated working groups and the Paradise Dam Community Reference Group.

Next steps

We will make a decision on the way forward for the long-term remediation of Paradise Dam by the end of 2021.

Once the government has decided on the course of action, Sunwater will finalise the design, cost estimates and approvals pathways ahead of remediation works, subject to approvals.

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

While further investigations into long-term improvements for Paradise Dam continue, the Queensland Government has approved Sunwater’s application to amend the water-sharing rules to maximise allocations in the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme.

From 1 July 2020, the new water-sharing rules removed Sunwater’s existing unsold water allocations 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.

Read more

  • Sunwater is delivering the Paradise Dam Essential Works project to ensure the safety of communities downstream of the dam.
  • Building Queensland completed the Paradise Dam Options Assessment in February 2020, which ruled out the decommissioning of Paradise Dam and provided the basis for the detailed business case.

Last updated: 03 Jun 2021