Sunwater has announced it has reached a significant milestone in its work on Paradise Dam near Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia, improving the safety of downstream communities.

The utility has completed a range of activities on the dam spillway, strengthening the structure and reducing the risk of dam failure. A 600mm concrete crest has been constructed on the dam wall, finalising a 5.8m lowering, with passive steel anchors successfully installed through the dam’s roller compacted concrete layers.

Further ancillary works will continue through 2021, including quality assurance work, construction of a new fishway and concreting downstream of the dam to provide interim protection against scour.

Sunwater’s decisions in relation to Paradise Dam have been about protecting both lives and livelihoods, it said. 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 1 in 200-year event, such as the community experienced in 2013.

No final decision about the height of the dam has been made. An options report and recommendation will be provided to the Queensland Government, which is expected to make a decision about the long-term future of Paradise Dam by the end of 2021.

A range of activities currently underway – including roller compacted concrete testing, anchor trials, geotechnical, hydrology and water demand studies – will inform the assessment of the options for Paradise Dam.

Paradise Dam Essential Works underway to improve downstream community safety. Image courtesy Sunwater