What the results tell us for Snowy River
Water was available in ample supply in the Snowy River Shire, largely because of storages associated with the Snowy Hydro Scheme. There were no water restrictions; and there was no water recycling. Use of reticulated (tap) water was highest in 2001–02, and averaged 800 megalitres per year during the reporting period. Average annual use was slightly higher than in the previous reporting period.
Various rivers associated with the shire were reported to be under environmental stress at the end of the last reporting period, some from high water extraction. Although dry conditions during the current period may have further increased stress levels, no data on this were available. Environmental flows to the Snowy River commenced in August 2002. Other environmental flows were not assessed for this report.
Supply—how much water could we have?
Water in Snowy River Shire is supplied from dams, rivers, bores and rainwater tanks. There was no change in the Council-managed water supply sources during the reporting period.
Berridale, East Jindabyne, Jindabyne and Kalkite are supplied from the Lake Jindabyne dam. Dalgety is supplied from the Snowy River. Adaminaby is supplied from the Goorudee Rivulet.
The Snowy Hydro Scheme manages all dams. River level data were not available to estimate how much water could be available.
Consumption—how much water was used?
Council was entitled to extract 2789 megalitres of surface water (water from rivers and dams) each year under licence from the NSW Department of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources. As data were available only for reticulated water use, it was not possible to calculate total water use for the shire.
Total use of reticulated water varied between years (Figure 1) but averaged 800 megalitres per year over the reporting period. Average annual water use was 20 megalitres per year higher than in the previous reporting period. The highest annual reticulated water use during the current period was in 2001–02.
All the urban sector and less than one per cent of the rural sector are connected to reticulated water. Changes in usage can be complicated by seasonal fluctuations in tourist numbers.
Source: Snowy River Shire Council
For information on the treatment of the drinking water supply see Drinking water quality.
Use by sector
The shire does not differentiate between differing sector usage.
The most recent report on environmental stress levels of rivers relevant to the shire indicated that Bobundra Creek and Matong Creek to Stoney Creek had high environmental stress ratings in 1999, while the Murrumbidgee River and Wullwye Creek had medium environmental stress ratings because of high water extraction (Department of Land and Water Conservation 1999a, 1999b). The Snowy River has been under severe stress since 1967; 99% of the river's water has been diverted to the Snowy Hydro Scheme since that year.
Environmental flows to the Snowy River commenced in August 2002. This occurred as a result of the Snowy Water Inquiry, commenced in 1998 by the New South Wales, Victorian and Commonwealth governments, to determine options for a range of rivers affected by the Snowy Hydro Scheme. The Snowy Water Inquiry Outcomes Implementation Deed stipulated staged environmental flow allocations for a range of rivers affecting the Snowy. In 2002 Stage 1 was completed, spilling all the natural flow entering the Mowamba River weir, contributing 3% to the target of 28% of the Snowy River's original flow. This flow reached 38 gigalitres per annum in the first three years. Stage 2 proposes to increase environmental flows to 15% through the Jindabyne dam spillway.
The rate of recovery of the Snowy River will be assessed through the Snowy River Response Monitoring Project. This project has already recommended a greater base flow component and the reintroduction of the seasonal snowmelt pattern during spring.
It is likely that drought conditions experienced during the current reporting period would have increased stress levels in rivers in the shire, although no data on this were available. Environmental flows were not assessed for this report.
Managing water demand and use
No water restrictions were applied within the shire during the reporting period.
Recycling—making the drop go further
A proposal to reuse water on the local golf course has been made, and a study undertaken to determine the quality of effluent before and after treatment. Funding from the NSW Government has now been approved, and works are due to commence 2005–06.
Laws and policy
Policies such as those under the 2003 National Water Initiative and laws passed in NSW during the reporting period, such as the Water Management Act 2000 and the Catchment Management Authorities Act 2003, were aimed in part at improving the efficiency of water use and putting in place water demand management strategies (see Government laws and policies). The extent to which these reforms affected water management in Snowy River Shire during the current reporting period was not assessed for this report.
Most of Snowy River Shire is within the upper Snowy River catchment except for a strip along the northeastern boundary that lies within the Murrumbidgee catchment. The shire thus falls within the Southern Rivers and Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority areas.
About the data
All data came from the Snowy River Shire Council, the Snowy River Catchment Management Authority and the NSW Department of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources. Council maintains records of water use through managing its water supply. All graphs were compiled from data provided by Council.
No data were available for water use from private licences.
One megalitre = one million litres.
Department of Land and Water Conservation (1999a) Stressed Rivers Assessment Reports: Murrumbidgee Catchment, Department of Land and Water Conservation, Sydney.
Department of Land and Water Conservation (1999b) Stressed Rivers Assessment Reports: Snowy/Genoa Catchments, Department of Land and Water Conservation, Sydney.