Water & Environment

Snowy Water Inquiry

The Snowy Water Inquiry was commissioned in 1998 with a brief to recommend environmental water release options to the Commonwealth, Victorian, and NSW Governments so that corporatisation of the Snowy Mountains Scheme could proceed. These release options related to the Snowy River below Jindabyne, the Murray River and other rivers associated with the Scheme. The Inquiry objectives were that the recommendations would not adversely impact on water supplies to existing irrigators or the viability of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

The Commonwealth, Victorian and NSW governments will contribute $375 million over ten years to fund water-saving efficiency initiatives associated with the Murray and Murrumbidgee Irrigation Systems. These water-saving initiatives will subsequently reduce the amount of water to be released from the Scheme to the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers, thus allowing increased releases to the Snowy River below Jindabyne.

Environmental releases from the montane rivers will be equivalent to 150 GWh (gigawatt hours) of lost energy production from the Scheme each year. These releases are to be implemented at a similar rate to the releases to the Snowy River from Jindabyne. The combined impact of the Snowy, Murray and montane river releases will reduce generation from the Scheme by up to 540 GWh per year or an average of 11%.

Substantial outlet works have been built at Jindabyne and Tantangara Dams to allow for the environmental releases. Minor modifications to a number of aqueducts was also required to enable the environmental releases from the montane rivers to be implemented and measured.

Snowy Hydro is committed to the future of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and river health, while meeting the primary role of supplying renewable energy and water for irrigation.

Healthy rivers are vital to the Snowy Mountains Scheme for many reasons – our prosperity, our environment, our communities and our future depend on it.

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