Dam Safety Improvement Program

SunWater manages its dams through its dam safety management program, systems and processes. The dam safety management program includes annual and 5 yearly comprehensive inspections and comprehensive risk assessments.

While SunWater’s dams were designed and constructed to meet the relevant engineering and construction standards of the time, since that time changes have occurred to both the engineering design standards, as well as our understanding of the size and scale of flood event possible at the various dam sites.

Subsequently, as part of its dam safety management program SunWater dams undergo a process of continuous assessment against statutory requirements, Australian National Committee of Large Dams (ANCOLD) guidelines, and Australian and International Standards. SunWater also regularly engages industry experts to provide peer review or advice on various activities within its dam safety management program.

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

Our dam 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.
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Prioritised improvements

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

  • The capacity to pass extreme flood events
  • Affected populations
  • Integrity of the dam structure under all load conditions
  • The economic impact if the dam were to fail
  • Overall failure risks

Following this assessment, a prioritised improvement program was developed.

To date, the following SunWater dams have undergone safety improvements:

  • Fred Haigh Dam near Gin Gin (Stage 1 completed 2006)
  • Bjelke-Petersen Dam near Murgon (completed 2008)
  • Tinaroo Falls Dam near Mareeba (completed 2011)
  • Kinchant Dam near Eton (Stage 1 completed 2015)
  • Eungella Dam near Mackay (Stage 1 completed 2015)
  • Fairbairn Dam near Emerald (first stage completed December 2016)
  • Paradise Dam near Biggenden (first stage completed December 2016)

The next stages of improvement works Paradise Dam and Fairbairn Dam and the first stage of the Burdekin Falls Dam Foundation Drainage Improvement projects are commencing in 2017.

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

  • Paradise Dam near Bundaberg (further stages)
  • Burdekin Falls Dam near Ravenswood (further stages)
  • 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
  • Cania Dam

The following SunWater dams do not require safety improvements:

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

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

Dam safety

None of SunWater’s dams pose any immediate safety risk. This safety improvement program is simply responding to BOM extreme rainfall projections and government and industry guidelines.

As a responsible dam owner, SunWater must respond to these projections to ensure its dams can cope with extreme weather conditions however low the risk may be. Other water authorities throughout Australia are carrying out similar dam safety improvements in line with these projections.

Consultation

Consultation will be undertaken with communities surrounding the dams before safety improvement works commence.

Issues such as access and dam use implications during construction will be considered before finalising safety improvement plans and construction programs.

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.

Enquiries

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

Safety improvement projects completed, underway and upcoming

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.

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.

Paradise Dam

The safety improvement of Paradise Dam involved construction of an additional section of concrete protection to the base of the primary spillway.

Works commenced in May 2016 and were completed in December 2016.

Fairbairn Dam

The safety improvement of the Fairbairn Dam spillway 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 first stage of improvement works were completed in December 2016. The next stage of works are currently underway and scheduled for completed in late 2018. More information is available here.

Burdekin Falls Dam

The safety improvement of Burdekin Falls Dam commenced in April 2017 with works to the spillway foundation drainage. This first stage involves installing additional drains and improving efficiency of current drains in the spillway and anchoring the rock foundation.

A later stage will involve raising of saddle dams and strengthening the spillway monoliths. More information is available here.