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 are necessary to lower the spillway in order to better manage community safety.

The Project

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

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 then follow.

Engagement forums

Sunwater has established the following engagement forums:

Contact us

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

Project timing

Preparation activities for the Essential Works commenced in April 2020 and lowering of the spillway commenced in May 2020. The lowering activity is now complete and a concrete crest is being constructed. The final activities for the Essential Works are forecast to be completed in 2021.

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 in September 2019. Following inflows, Sunwater releases water to bring the dam back down to 42 per cent capacity.

Proactively lowering and maintaining dam capacity at 42 per cent will:

  • provide dry space below the site to facilitate the works
  • ensure site safety during these works
  • allow additional warning time for the community should a significant flood like that in 2013 occur again.

For information about opportunistic access to Paradise Dam water releases visit the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme page.

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 and work-in-progress. 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.

Deciding the future of Paradise Dam

Building Queensland was engaged by the State Government to prepare an options assessment for Paradise Dam. This report has 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, Building Queensland and Sunwater will ensure this information is collected as a matter of priority, allowing government to determine the best long-term option for Paradise Dam. More information regarding this is available on the Paradise Dam Improvement Project page.

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. Over the last five years, medium priority allocations for the Burnett River sub-scheme have ranged between 71 and 91 per cent at the beginning of the water year. An amendment to water-sharing rules was approved in March 2020 that, along with inflows, secured allocations close to this range for the beginning of the current water year. Allocations for the 2020/21 water year were confirmed in July 2020.

Sunwater is investigating alternate storages options, with a particular focus on identifying suitable sites in the Burnett River sub-scheme to provide additional water storage capacity to meet future demand. Sunwater will work with local stakeholders and provide information to Building Queensland as it determines the best long-term option for Paradise Dam.

Further information

Fact Sheet: Geotechnical Investigations October 2020

Fact Sheet: Anchor Trials October 2020

Fact Sheet: Roller Compacted Concrete Sampling & Testing September 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.