Paradise Dam is located approximately 20km north-west of Biggenden and 80km south-west of Bundaberg. It is owned, managed and operated by Sunwater.
Record flooding events in the region in 2013 caused significant damage to Paradise Dam.
The Queensland Government and Sunwater are working closely with key stakeholders on a number of initiatives to ensure the safety of downstream communities, as well as ongoing water security for the Burnett region.
Commission of inquiry
The fully independent Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry examined the structural and stability issues with Paradise Dam.
The commission was established on 6 December 2019 with the appointment of John Byrne AO RFD as Chair and Commissioner, and Emeritus Professor John Carter AM as Commissioner
The inquiry’s key areas of focus were:
- the root cause of structural and stability issues identified in engineering and technical studies conducted on the Paradise Dam between 30 January 2013 and 30 November 2019
- if, and to what extent, the governance, processes and systems involved in the design, construction or commissioning of Paradise Dam contributed to that root cause.
The inquiry reported to the Premier and the Minister for Natural Resources on 30 April 2020. The Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry report (PDF, 11MB) includes 8 recommendations for ensuring that future Queensland dams are designed, constructed and commissioned to acceptable standards.
The Queensland Government has accepted the commission’s findings and is developing an action plan by mid-2020 to implement its recommendations.
Further details can be found in the Queensland Government’s response (PDF, 300.4KB).
More information about the inquiry, including the full terms of reference, can be found on the Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry's website.
Justice John Byrne AO RFD
The Honourable John Byrne will chair the inquiry into Paradise Dam. Read Justice Byrne’s biography.
Emeritus Professor John Carter AM FAA FTSE FRSN FIEAust FAIB
Professor John Carter has more than 30 years’ experience in teaching, researching and consulting in civil, geotechnical and offshore engineering. Read about Professor Carter’s experience.
In March 2020, the Queensland Government released the independent Paradise Dam options assessment, which was prepared by Building Queensland.
The assessment looked at 5 options, and recommended the following options be progressed to a detailed business case:
- maintain the primary spillway height at the level after the essential spillway reduction work is completed
- raise the primary spillway height to an optimal level to be advised
- lower the primary spillway height to an optimal level to be advised, with alternative water supply options as required.
Decommissioning Paradise Dam was ruled out because of the Queensland Government’s commitment to meeting the region’s demand for water.
Building Queensland recommended that further investigations are required in conjunction with the essential works to confirm the final height of the dam. This will include geotechnical investigations and core sampling and testing of the roller compacted concrete.
In addition, more detailed demand assessments and alternative water supply options will be investigated during 2020 through consultation with experts, irrigators and the broader community.
For more information about this assessment, including a copy of the summary report, visit the Building Queensland website.
Amendments to water-sharing rules
While further investigations into longer-term improvements for Paradise Dam continue, the Queensland Government has approved Sunwater’s application to amend the water-sharing rules to maximise allocations in the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme.
From 1 July 2020, the new water-sharing rules will remove Sunwater’s existing unsold water allocations from the Burnett River sub-scheme announced allocation formula.
These amendments will maximise the amount of water available to farmers and businesses throughout the region.
For more information on water allocations for the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme, visit the Sunwater website.
Last updated 21 May 2020