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Nathan Dam and Pipelines

The proposed Nathan Dam and Pipelines Project aims to provide long-term, reliable water supplies to mining, power, urban and existing agricultural customers in the Surat Coal Basin and the Dawson sub-region of Central Queensland. Water from the dam may also be called on to address critical water supply needs in the lower Fitzroy and other parts of Queensland.

The project is dependent of demand expectations from key customers in the mining sector and the completion of a detailed business case by Building Queensland.

Market research has indicated there is not sufficient demand to support further development or construction at this time. Sunwater is liaising with potential project customers to ensure potential demands are identified and is positioned to progress should demand for commercially-viable water sales increase.

Project Background

In 2006 the Queensland Government released its Central Queensland Regional Water Supply Strategy, which identified Nathan Dam as the preferred short to medium-term water supply solution in Queensland’s Dawson-Callide sub-region.

In July 2007, Sunwater was appointed as the proponent to develop a business case for the Project. As part of the business case development, detailed studies have been undertaken to determine optimal dam and pipeline design and costs, expected water availability and demands, and the overall environmental, social and economic impacts of the Project. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project was finalised and released for public comment in 2012.

What’s involved?

  • The potential capacity of the dam is 888,312 ML at full supply
  • The Nathan Pipeline would be approximately 220 kilometres in length, extending from Nathan Dam through the Dawson-Callide and Surat Coal Basin area to Warra
  • To maintain existing supply arrangements and support new customers, water would be released from the dam downstream to towns and irrigation users along the Dawson River.

Major milestones

  • On 31 May 2017 the Queensland Coordinator-General released the Environmental Impact Study evaluation report to the Federal Government under the bilateral agreement and recommended the project proceed subject to recommendations made in the report
  • The Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy approved the project on 13 July 2017, with conditions including a restriction on new water for agriculture.


Burdekin Falls Dam, North Queensland
Approximately 200 km south of Townsville.