Dam Safety Improvement Program

SunWater is undertaking a safety improvement program to ensure the highest level of safety for our dams is maintained.

Our safety improvement program will ensure our dams continue to be able to hold and safely release excess volumes of water during periods of extreme rainfall and satisfy modern standards.

Prioritised improvements

A detailed assessment of SunWater (and its subsidiaries) dams was undertaken to determine a prioritised list of dams requiring safety improvements. Dams were assessed on the following features:

  • Current rainfall event capacity
  • Affected populations
  • Integrity of the dam structure under increased water loads
  • Impact to the provision of ongoing water supply
  • The economic impact of the dam’s failure during an extreme rainfall event
  • Overall failure risks

Following this assessment, a prioritised improvement program was developed.

To date, the following dams have undergone safety improvements:

  • Fred Haigh Dam near Gin Gin (Stage 1 completed 2006)
  • Bjelke-Petersen Dam near Murgon (completed 2008)
  • Borumba Dam near Imbil (transferred to Seqwater July 2008; completed 2009)
  • Tinaroo Falls Dam near Mareeba (completed 2011)
  • Kinchant Dam near Eton (Stage 1 completed 2015)
  • Eungella Dam near Mackay (Stage 1 completed 2015)

A number of other SunWater dams and storages will undergo safety improvements in the longer term:

  • Paradise Dam near Bundaberg (Stage 1 to 4)
  • Fairbairn Dam near Emerald
  • Burdekin Falls Dam near Ravenswood (Stage 1 & 2)
  • Teemburra Dam near Mackay
  • Coolmunda Dam near Inglewood
  • Fred Haigh Dam near Gin Gin (Stage 2)
  • Wuruma Dam near Eidsvold
  • Leslie Dam near Warwick
  • Eungella Dam near Mackay (Stage 2)
  • Callide Dam
  • Kinchant Dam (Stage 2)
  • Moura Offstream Storage
  • Woongarra Balancing Storage
  • Peter Faust Dam near Proserpine
  • Isis Balancing Storage

The following SunWater dams do not require safety improvements:

  • Beardmore Dam
  • Boondooma Dam
  • Cania Dam
  • Julius Dam
  • Kroombit Dam

In addition to the safety improvement program, SunWater continues to undertake an extensive maintenance program for all dams.

Fred Haigh Dam

The first stage of the safety improvement was completed in September 2006. Identified as the highest priority improvement, the top of the dam was raised by constructing a two metre high wall and providing a watertight gate to allow operational access to SunWater’s Monduran Pump Station. The second stage of the safety improvement will be undertaken in the future.

Bjelke-Petersen Dam

Identified as the second highest priority safety improvement, work on the first stage commenced in February 2007 and was completed by October 2007. The main dam and saddle dam wall were both raised by 1.2 metres and the saddle dam wall was extended.

Borumba Dam

Identified as the third highest priority safety improvement, work commenced in April 2008 and was completed in March 2009. The Borumba Dam safety improvement involved increasing the height of the dam wall by 1.6 metres, allowing the dam to hold excess water until it can pass safely through the spillway. Ownership of Borumba Dam was transferred from SunWater to Seqwater 1 July 2008.

Tinaroo Falls Dam

Identified as the fourth highest priority safety improvement, construction commenced in March 2009 and was completed in 2011. The improvement to Tinaroo Falls Dam included work on both the main dam wall and the saddle dam.

The main dam wall was reinforced with the insertion of steel cable “anchors” within the wall and the addition of a concrete protection slab along the downstream base of the dam wall.

In addition to work on the main dam wall, the height of the saddle dam was increased by 30cm and “filters zones”, designed to minimise damage caused by seepage during a flood event, was placed on the downstream face.

Kinchant Dam

The safety improvement of Kinchant Dam involved the installation of improved and extended downstream filters on the embankment. It also involved an upgrade of the existing drainage system within the structure itself, together with the installation of additional drainage within and downstream of the foundation of the dam.

Construction of the Kinchant Dam Safety Improvement Project commenced in June 2012 and was completed in March 2015.

Eungella Dam

The safety improvement of Eungella Dam involved reinforcement of the spillway crest with the installation of "anchors". The Eungella Safety Improvement Project commenced in late August 2015 and was completed in late September 2015.

Fairbairn Dam

The safety improvement of the Fairbairn Dam spillway will involve works on the lower chute floor including: the modification of drainage outlets; the repair and replacement of blocked drains; the replacement of steel anchors; the filling of voids under the concrete slabs of the spillway; and construction of a mass reinforced concrete overlay.

The safety improvement works are scheduled to commence in April 2016 and are due for completion in November 2016. More information is available here.

Burdekin Falls Dam

The safety improvement of Burdekin Falls Dam will be completed in three parts (Stages 1a, 1b and 2). Stage 1 involves installing additional drains and improving efficiency of current drains in the spillway and anchoring the rock foundation. A later Stage 2 would involve raising of saddle dams and strengthening the spillway monoliths.

Program Funding

A business case will be prepared for funding of each dam safety improvement project and those will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.


For further information about SunWater's safety improvement program, please call SunWater on 13 15 89.