Paradise Dam Essential Works

Paradise Dam Essential Works Project

Paradise Dam, Queensland

Ensuring the safety of communities downstream of Paradise Dam is Sunwater’s primary concern. Immediate essential works were necessary to reduce the risk of a dam failure whilst the long-term dam remediation plan is confirmed.

The Project

The Paradise Dam Essential Works were a short-term risk reduction measure while the longer-term dam remediation plan was confirmed.

Following the decision made by the Queensland Government in December 2021, Paradise Dam will be returned to its original height as part of significant safety improvement works under the Paradise Dam Improvement Project.

Sunwater lowered the spillway at Paradise Dam to improve its stability and the safety of downstream communities.

Dam failure risk reduced

The Essential Works, which have reduced pressure on the dam wall in a significant flood event, are a short-term risk reduction measure while a longer-term dam remediation plan is confirmed.

With the completion of work on the dam spillway, the risk of dam failure has been reduced to a 1 in 5000-year event.

Prior to the start of the essential works, the dam failure risk was a 1 in 200-year event, such as the community experienced in 2013.

Further strengthening and stabilising work is required as part of the long-term remediation of Paradise Dam to meet safety guidelines.

More information is available in the Paradise Dam Essential Works Risk Reduction Fact Sheet (available under ‘Further Information’ on this page).

Project timing

Preparation activities for the Essential Works commenced in April 2020 and lowering of the spillway commenced in May 2020. The lowering activity was completed in September 2020 and final pours for the concrete crest were completed at the end of January 2021.

The final ancillary activities for the Essential Works include installation of a new downstream fishway, which is scheduled for construction completion in February 2022, with commissioning ongoing throughout 2022.


Damage to Paradise Dam during the region’s record flooding in 2013 was more significant than expected. Since this event, Sunwater has been working to repair, maintain, investigate and improve the dam. Sunwater conducted technical investigations that identified issues with the dam’s stability that could impact community safety. A series of technical studies informed our decision to lower Paradise Dam’s spillway, with the first step to lower it by 5.8 metres. Other significant improvement works will follow.

Engagement forums

Sunwater has established the following engagement forums:

Contact us

For community enquiries about Paradise Dam, contact: 07 3120 0270 or

Reduced dam level

To enhance dam stability and community safety, and in preparation for the Essential Works in 2020, Sunwater reduced the dam’s capacity to 42 per cent (of the full supply capacity) in September 2019. Subsequent releases were made in 2020 during the Essential Works.

Dam updates, safety and emergency management

The Sunwater app provides the latest dam information and alerts at your fingertips. Please download it to stay informed about Sunwater dam operations especially during heavy rain and flood events. Sunwater has prepared a Paradise Dam Emergency Response Overview that provides information about how dam risks are being managed.

In accordance with regulatory guidelines, Sunwater has updated the Paradise Dam Emergency Action Plan to consider changes to dam stability. Emergency training exercises are conducted in conjunction with local councils, Queensland Police and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services which comprise the Local Disaster Management Group.

Assessing options for Paradise Dam

An options assessment was prepared for Paradise Dam and published in February 2020.

This report recommended that the following further information be gathered in conjunction with implementing the Essential Works:

  • geotechnical assessment of the dam foundations and development of a 3D geological model
  • further sampling and testing of the primary spillway’s roller compacted concrete
  • an anchoring trial to confirm existing dam foundation capacity
  • the refinement of option designs and cost ranges using this updated information.

In partnership, the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (DRDMW) and Sunwater ensured that this information was collected as a matter of priority, and considered in the options assessment to determine the best long-term option for Paradise Dam.

Water security

Sunwater understands the Bundaberg community’s concerns about water security for the region. While safety is the key driver for the work at Paradise Dam, Sunwater is also committed to identifying options that ensure long-term water security.

We continue to provide water for customers.

An amendment to water-sharing rules was approved in March 2020 that maximises allocations for customers. Announced Allocation information is available here.

Further information

Fact Sheet: Burnett River sub-scheme Network Capacity Assessment – findings March 2022

Fact Sheet: Climate change impact considerations March 2022

Fact Sheet: Alternative storages assessment findings March 2022

Fact Sheet: Apron Foundation Geological Mapping September 2021

Fact Sheet: Anchor Trial Results August 2021

Paradise Dam Q&A July 2021

Fact Sheet: Roller Compacted Concrete Shear Strength Testing Results May 2021

Fact Sheet: Paleoflood study findings May 2021

Fact Sheet: NCEconomics Future Water Demand Study April 2021

Fact Sheet: Hydrology and Hydraulic Studies April 2021

Fact Sheet: Essential Works Risk Reduction March 2021

Fact Sheet: Detailed Business Case March 2021

Fact Sheet: Anchor Trials updated January 2021

Fact Sheet: Geotechnical Investigations October 2020

Fact Sheet: Roller Compacted Concrete Sampling & Testing September 2020

Fact Sheet: Paleoflood study for the Burnett catchment July 2020

Fact Sheet: Paradise Dam 5.8 metre lowering May 2020

Fact Sheet: Paradise Dam Essential Works Technical Q&A May 2020

Paradise Dam Essential Works Q&A November 2019

Paradise Dam timeline: construction to Essential Works


Paradise Dam, Queensland
Approximately 20km north-west of Biggenden and 80km south-west of Bundaberg.

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Paradise Dam Essential Works underway to improve downstream community safety.