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QLD Government greenlights raising Burdekin Falls Dam

Burdekin Falls Dam

The Queensland Government has endorsed raising the state’s largest dam, the Burdekin Falls Dam, by two metres. The project, carried out in conjunction with Sunwater, aims to address increased water demand in North Queensland.

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 in Queensland.

Queensland’s Minister for Water Glenn Butcher announced the works alongside local MPs Les Walker, Aaron Harper and Scott Stewart.

“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,” Minister Butcher said.

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.

To account for the increase in spillway height, the dam’s left and right abutments – the walls either side of the spillway – are also proposed to be raised.

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.

Associated works to support construction will include new water and wastewater treatment plants, resource extraction areas and associated access tracks, road works, worker accommodation camp, helipad, power and telecommunications. Recreation facility upgrades are also proposed.

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

Sunwater has begun preparation of the environmental impact statement (EIS), which will assess the potential environmental, economic and social benefits and impacts of the project.

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  in 2023.

To read the project factsheet prepared by Sunwater, visit here.

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