Paradise Dam Improvement Project – Project overview

Paradise Dam Improvement Project

Paradise Dam, Queensland

Sunwater is planning for a new Paradise Dam wall on the Burnett River after newly identified issues show that no amount of improvement work will fix the existing dam.

Project overview

In December 2021, the Queensland Government announced that Paradise Dam will be returned to its original height, as part of significant safety improvement works.

Sunwater has been progressing the Paradise Dam Improvement Project Detailed Business Case (Stage 2) since which has involved a program of intensive testing to inform design development.

Through this testing, three unexpected new issues were identified regarding the long-term strength and quality of the dam’s concrete, compared to the known current strength.

Through a further bespoke and world-first testing program, developed by Sunwater, its project partners and independent experts, test results confirmed that Paradise Dam’s concrete will lose strength over time.

Sunwater is now progressing a detailed business case for a new Paradise Dam wall immediately downstream of the existing structure to ensure a safe and secure water supply for the Bundaberg region for future generations.

More information regarding the new Paradise Dam wall and new issues identified with the dam’s concrete are found on the New Dam Wall page.

Water security

Demand and hydrology studies have shown that returning the 300,600 megalitre capacity to the Burnett River will be sufficient to meet the region’s water needs for decades to come, even with the potential impacts of climate change on both water demand and yield.

The Queensland Government and Sunwater will continue to engage with the Bundaberg community and irrigators to ensure water security and safety are top priorities during the planning of a new dam wall.

As requested by industry representatives, the Queensland Government also completed an Economic impact assessment (EIA) to inform the broader economic benefits of restoring Paradise Dam.

Out of allocation water events

Storage level management of Paradise Dam has been required since March 2023.

Storage level management will continue to be required, at times, during construction of a new dam wall.

Releases that can’t be stores in downstream storages will be made available at no cost to Burnett River sub-scheme customers as out-of-allocation (OOA) events. One OOA event has taken place since March 2023.

Timeframes and scope for this will be determined as project planning progresses.

As always, Sunwater will do all we can to ensure as much water is available for customers while we safely complete the project. We will keep customers informed of any developments. 

Options to reintroduce water for sale during the PDIP

Sunwater hosted sessions in November 2022 to understand customer’s interest in making permanent water available for sale during the PDIP.

Feedback indicated that, while there is interest in purchasing water in the future, customers do not want to risk undermining security of current allocations. Sunwater has no current plans to sell new permanent water from the Burnett River sub-scheme and will continue to engage with customers as the detailed business case for a new dam wall progresses.  A video and supporting Fact Sheet on this topic was shared prior to the customer sessions and can be found here.

Resolving distribution network constraints

In January 2024, the Queensland Government asked Sunwater to commence a detailed business case to expand the irrigation network within the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme. This will build upon previous investigations to understand distribution constraints. Therefore, Sunwater will combine the two focuses into one detailed business case.  Further information on this can be found in a fact sheet here.

Engagement forum

Sunwater has established the Paradise Dam Reference Group to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas between key stakeholders and Sunwater during the Paradise Dam Improvement Project. This forum will remain during the planning new Paradise Dam wall on the Burnett River.

Business opportunities

Sunwater is keen to ensure local businesses have the opportunity to tender for work generated by the PDIP. As a Government Owned Corporation, Sunwater is committed to Buy Queensland, which prioritises local businesses and jobs. We will ensure that government requirements and best practice are followed to maximise the participation of local businesses.

Upcoming opportunities will be made available via the Paradise Dam Improvement Project page on the ICN Gateway.

To receive further information as project planning progresses, please complete this mailing list form.

Options evaluation

The Queensland Government’s decision has been underpinned by the Paradise Dam Improvement Project Options Evaluation Report.

Sunwater assisted in the development of the Options Evaluations Report by undertaking technical assessment and testing, supporting the demand study and undertaking preliminary design of various remediation options.

Read the Paradise Dam Improvement Project Options Evaluation Report on the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (DRDMW) website.


The earlier stages of the Paradise DIP included flood repair works carried out in 2013 and further improvement works completed in mid-2017. The Paradise Dam Essential Works, which commenced in April 2020, were a short-term risk reduction measure while the longer-term dam remediation plan was confirmed. The final ancillary activities for the Essential Works were completed in early-2022.

In January 2024, the Queensland Government announced that Sunwater would commence planning for a new Paradise Dam wall on the Burnett River by progressing a detailed business case. This came after three unexpected new issues were identified regarding the long-term strength and quality of the dam’s concrete.
Further information on this update can be found on the New Paradise Dam wall page.