AFTER YEARS OF REDUCED flows due to diversions for irrigation and hydro power, a plan to restore Australia’s Snowy river was inaugurated by the premiers of the states of New South Wales and Victoria. After years of lobbying by conservationists, the state governments of Victoria, New South Wales, and Australia have agreed to a US$163M plan to restore the river flow to 28% of the natural annual average over a period of 10 years.

At a ceremony held in August 2002, a valve on the Mowamba aqueduct, which diverted mountain waters to the nearby Jindabyne dam was closed. While environmentalists rejoiced, many farmers who depend on irrigation water from the Snowy Mountains were worried. Victorian Farmers Federation president Paul Weller said the result would be less water for farms already struggling under drought conditions.

The 3756MW Snowy Mountain hydro scheme in Australia has 16 major dams and seven hydro power stations which generate an average of 5000GWh of electricity annually.