The Palaszczuk Labor Government in conjunction with Sunwater, has commenced work on raising Burdekin Falls Dam by two metres, which would create hundreds of jobs during construction and deliver considerable benefits to North Queensland.
Minister for Water Glenn Butcher announced the works alongside local MPs Les Walker, Aaron Harper and Scott Stewart.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government will always support water security projects that stack up, so we’re taking this next step to ensure raising Burdekin Falls Dam benefits our North Queensland communities,” he said.
“Burdekin Falls is the largest dam in Queensland – at more than 1.8 million megalitres capacity – and raising it by two metres will significantly boost the amount of water available to our farmers and other businesses looking to expand their operations.”
Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said the Palaszczuk Labor Government wants to support economic growth across North Queensland, and Burdekin Falls Dam is vital to economic prosperity in the region both now and into the future.
“Raising the dam will also allow us to manage the risks of weather events by ensuring the structure is resilient and provides continued water security for the region,” Mr Walker said.
“As an apprentice I worked on building the construction village for the original Burdekin Falls Dam project when I was 19 so it’s exciting to be part of the Palaszczuk Government which is taking the next step in this project.”
Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper said Burdekin Falls Dam is a critical piece of Queensland’s water infrastructure.
“Raising the dam will increase economic productivity – with a 2-metre raise potentially providing 150,000 megalitres of new water allocations,” Mr Harper said.
“The Palaszczuk Government has already committed to dam safety works on Burdekin Falls Dam, and the smartest move is to progress the 2-metre raising at the same time as that safety work.”
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said water is integral to economic opportunity which, in turn, means more jobs for the community for many years to come.
“Raising the dam by 2 metres will address future demand, whether that demand comes from agriculture, industry, urban water supply, or from new and emerging industries, such as hydrogen,” Mr Stewart said.
“Investing in water security is what we do as a government and working to raise the Burdekin Falls Dam along with delivering stages one and two of the Haughton Pipeline shows our track record when it comes to this.”
The next stage of planning follows the Queensland Government’s initial consideration of Sunwater’s detailed business case (DBC), which outlined options to increase the dam’s water supply and long-term viability, alongside required safety improvements.
An independent assessment demonstrated that projected water demand from the dam may exceed current availability by 2031 and that a raising of two metres would address this future need. This also considers growing demand from the emerging hydrogen industry.
Sunwater has begun preparation of the EIS, which will assess the potential environmental, economic and social benefits and impacts of the project.
“The Queensland Government supports the development of sustainable and cost-effective water infrastructure to support the agricultural and industrial sectors and boost urban supply,” Mr Butcher said.
“We are taking a methodical and considered approach to this proposal and once the EIS is completed and we have all the information we need, a final investment decision can be made.
The proposed works on Burdekin Falls Dam would include raising the spillway and abutments using concrete buttressing, raising and widening the saddle dams, and constructing a new saddle dam on the right bank.
The project will increase the dam’s storage capacity by 574,240 megalitres, boosting capacity to an estimated 2,434,240 megalitres. It would also provide approximately 150,000 megalitres equivalent medium priority water.
Sunwater Chief Executive Officer Glenn Stockton said safety improvement works will ensure the dam continues to pass flood waters safely and complies with modern design standards and guidelines.
“We understand the critical role this dam plays in providing water security for the Burdekin and surrounding regions,” he said.
“The project will ensure the asset remains safe and productive for years to come.”
Pending approval of the EIS and an investment decision, contractor engagement and procurement activities for the dam raising project would commence.
Sunwater expects to submit a draft of the EIS to the Queensland Coordinator-General (CG) in 2023.
Sunwater has prepared a fact sheet regarding the project: here