State of the Environment Report title
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2004 Report



Snowy River

icon for human settlement Issue: Resource use

This issue is discussed for these areas  

How has resource use changed?

See these indicator results for more detail: | Population | Rainfall | Water use |

Drought in 2002–03 was the major factor affecting consumption of resources in Snowy River Shire during the reporting period. It will not be known until after the 2006 Census if there were any economic effects of the drought.

Reticulated water use increased since 1999–2000, possibly in response to drought conditions, increasing population and no water restrictions being imposed.

Only limited information is available on other resource use in the shire, including for water consumption by private licensees (including the agriculture sector), infrastructure management, energy use and greenhouse gas contributions. Energy consumption data are too difficult to obtain for reporting at the local government level.

Water use linked to drought, restrictions and re-use

See these indicator results for more detail: | Water use | Weather |

The four-year period was characterised by drought, but within that, record-breaking above- and below-average falls were experienced. Snowy River was drier than average in three of the four years in the period. Only 12 months (25% of the 48-month period) at Snowy River had above-average rainfall.

Reticulated water use fluctuated within the reporting period. The highest use was in 2001–02 and the lowest in 2002–03. Water use was 20 megalitres higher per year in this reporting period compared to the previous one. This may be attributed largely to an increase in population, the drought conditions, together with no water restrictions being imposed during the current reporting period. No information on levels of water storages were available for the current reporting period.

No water recycling or reuse schemes were operational within the shire during the current reporting period. Council has, however been investigating the use of treated effluent to irrigate the local golf course.

Assessment of water use and its impacts is limited

See these indicator results for more detail: | Wateruse |

Data on water use were available for this report only for council-licensed surface water including reticulated water. No data were available for anywhere outside the reticulated area within the shire on private use, including water used for irrigation by the rural sector.

Impacts of all water extraction on the shire's river systems were unknown in 2004.

Solid and hazardous waste

See these indicator results for more detail: | Hazardous waste | Solid waste |

Volumes of waste to landfill increased significantly during the reporting period. The increase comprised mainly building and demolition waste and that from private deliveries rather than from domestic collections. The increase in waste to landfill may be partially due to increased population (which fluctuates seasonally with the influx of tourists in the winter and increasingly in the summer months) and more accurate measurement of waste to landfill.

Although the proportion of material recycled remained stable, the amount of material recycled increased by 36%. The materials recycled included those such as plastic, glass, aluminium and steel cans which are most likely generated from domestic and commercial sources.

Hazardous waste was collected at the Berridale and Jindabyne waste transfer stations. About 1350 kilograms were collected, and consisted mostly of waste oil, paints and resins, pesticides and acids.

Land use

See these indicator results for more detail: | Landuse |

Conservation was the main landuse, on about 60% of the shire or about 361,800 hectares. Changes in landuse during the reporting period were directed at protection of forest ecosystems and conservation of biodiversity resources in the shire, with the conversion of approximately 13,900 hectares of Crown land and timber production land for conservation purposes. The converted land was part of the Southern Regional Forests Agreement to help develop a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system. During the reporting period eight new reserves were created within the shire and about 10,600 hectares of land added to Kosciuszko National Park.

Agriculture is the second-largest landuse, on about 32% of the shire or about 192,950 hectares. The majority of these lands consisted of grazing land. The lands under cropping and mixed farming have fluctuated since 1997. It is possible that some of these changes may have been the result of drought conditions. Rural residential development (included under the 'agriculture' landuse) remained relatively stable during the reporting period.

Council has been proactive in undertaking a planning project to investigate potential areas for rural residential and residential growth in Jindabyne and some of the smaller town and villages.

Energy use

See these indicator results for more detail: | Energy consumption | Population | Transport |

Energy use has several components. Transport type and use contribute to the use of energy, as do type of heating and use of energy for domestic, commercial and industrial purposes. Some changes in energy use may well have occurred in Snowy River Shire during the reporting period, but information is too sparse and results cannot be estimated.

Despite an increasing population, the rate of ownership of motor vehicles in the shire decreased from 958 per thousand population to 775 per thousand between June 2001 and June 2004. As fewer vehicles are being used it is assumed that there will be a decline in greenhouse gas emissions within the shire. In addition, while cleaner vehicle emissions and reduced consumption per kilometre may also result, insufficient information is known about the nature of the vehicle decrease and the kilometres travelled.

Electricity consumption does not appear to be available on a shire basis.

Maintaining Snowy River's infrastructure

See these indicator results for more detail: | Infrastructure |

Council's water and sewage infrastructure was generally considered to be in good condition. Exceptions include Adaminaby and Dalgety water supply systems and the Berridale sewage treatment plant. Works are expected to be undertaken to premeditate these structures during the next reporting period.

Public roads within the shire are generally considered to be in good condition with one bridge being noted as requiring replacement. Commonwealth "Roads to Recovery" funding was expended to improve the condition of a number of roads within the shire during the reporting period.

Public buildings within the shire were considered to be in reasonable condition depending on age and intended use. The three swimming pools within the shire were in varying condition.

What does this mean for the future?

For land and water management?

Until data on rural and other uses become available, only a partial picture of water use and its impacts is likely.

SoE2000 recommended development of river management plans as a matter of priority for the Mowamba River within the shire. That report also noted the need for improved data availability to better understand the total water system—not just that component for which council is responsible. Since that report, the whole area has suffered intense drought.

Council needs data outside its own licensing arrangements to assist with its strategic planning and decision-making about landuse and development. Such data are also needed for comprehensive impact assessment and catchment management, including environmental flows.

Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) were established under NSW legislation in January 2004. Catchment Action Plans and Macro Water Plans being developed by CMAs should provide data for comprehensive catchment management and assist council decision-making about potential water restrictions during droughts.

Council needs to:

For waste management?

Council investment in waste management and resource recovery needs to be maintained for continued effectiveness.

For energy use?

See these indicator results for more detail:

We simply do not know, but increasingly strong climate change warnings and the precautionary principle dictate more conservative use of non-renewable fuels (see Energy consumption). Fuel use is also discussed in the Air quality issue.