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SNOWY HYDRO LTD – DONT TURN OFF SNOWY RIVERS
Two big rivers that once flowed into the Snowy River in Kosciuszko National Park are flowing again for the first time in 50 years and must not be turned off again, according to Gippsland Environment Group.
The Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers are tributaries of the upper Snowy River above Jindabyne. In 1965, as part of the construction of the Snowy Scheme, these two rivers, like many others in the Snowy Mountains, were completely diverted and sent west for hydro-electricity generation and irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin.
The waters of the Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers were collected at weirs and dropped down the 100m deep Burrungabugge diversion shaft into the Snowy-Eucumbene tunnel which directs the water of the upper Snowy River between Island bend Dam and Eucumbene Dam.
That diversion shaft has now failed due to long-term wear and tear. Snowy Hydro Ltd has had to open the weir gates and allow the Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers to flow down their natural course into the Snowy River below Island bend Dam. From there the waters flow into Jindabyne Dam.
Gippsland Environment Group is calling on the three government shareholders of Snowy Hydro Ltd to let the Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers permanently run free.
“It is an incredible sight to see rivers that were beheaded by the Snowy Scheme once again flowing down their steep mountain river beds,” said spokesperson Louise Crisp. “For sixty years the Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers have had 99% of their headwaters diverted by the Snowy Scheme.”
“It is no longer the environmental dark ages of the 1950s,” said Ms Crisp. “These rivers must remain free flowing; they are key tributaries of the Snowy River in Kosciuszko National Park. There would be no net loss of water to Snowy Hydro Ltd as the company is able to pump the water back up to Island bend Dam via the Jindabyne Dam pumping station.”
“The NSW Government is currently undertaking the first Ten-year Review of the 75-year Snowy Water Licence. If the three government shareholders of Snowy Hydro Ltd are to deliver on their commitments to sustainable water management then Licence should be amended. The Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers must not be turned off like a tap,” concluded Ms Crisp.
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