Burdekin Falls Dam

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Lake Dalrymple is an artificial lake formed by the Burdekin Falls Dam, with construction commencing in 1982 and completion in 1987. The dam and lake are owned and operated by SunWater. The lake is located approximately 125 kilometers south south-west of Townsville and approximately 75 kilometers south-east of Charters Towers.

The dam capacity is 1,860,000 ML with an area of 22,400 hectares, which equates to approximately four times the size of Sydney Harbor. The dam is the largest in Queensland. The dam wall is 876 meters long with a 504 meter spill way which drops 37 meters to the river bed. The lake is deemed to be of national significance.

The dam is the key source of water for agricultural and industrial uses in the case study area – and beyond into the Central Queensland coal fields and the urban/industrial centre of Townsville.

Water allocations from the Burdekin Falls Dam are not diverted at the dam but rather released down the Burdekin river and then extracted at various weirs and pump stations in the Lower Burdekin, including Gorge Weir, Blue Valley Weir, Clare Weir and the Haughton Balancing Storage.

The Burdekin Falls Dam operates in conjunction with the existing storages of Clare Weir and Gorge Weir on the Burdekin River, and Val Bird and Giru weirs on the Haughton River at Giru. Pump stations are located on the Burdekin River, within the Clare Weir storage, to divert water to the Haughton, Elliot and Barratta Main Channels.

Lake Dalrymple itself is used recreationally. Fishing and water skiing are popular activities. Species regularly caught in the dam include sooty grunter (black bream) of two species, sleepy cod, archerfish, catfish (both eel tail and fork tail), eel and spangled perch. Yellowbelly and golden perch are being regularly caught – they are accidental releases from farm dams – while Barramundi have been released into the dam but are not regularly caught (Greiner and Hall 2006).


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