Wivenhoe dam could be raised and two new dams built in Queensland’s southeast to better protect Brisbane and Ipswich from floods.
The government has shortlisted options to safeguard the cities from the kind of flood event that caused widespread damage in 2011.
They include raising the dam wall at Wivenhoe to increase its capacity to store flood waters, and building a new dam on the Brisbane River upstream of Linville and a second on the Lower Warrill Creek near Willowbank.
More detailed studies will now be carried out on those proposals.
"It is important to stress no decisions have been made about which dams may or may not be built," Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said in a statement on Tuesday.
He said the shortlist was the first step in improving the cities' ability to cope with natural disasters like floods, and the effects of what it called "climate variability".
"A more detailed investigation will now be carried out to consider the benefits, estimated costs and potential impacts of each of the three options or combinations of options," Mr McArdle said.