Fears Snowy River could be put back on ‘life support’

Updated October 04, 2017 18:01:36

About 13,000 megalitres of water will rush into the Snowy River today for its annual environmental flush.

The flow from the Jindabyne Dam has put the river in far better health since they began in 2000, after the river almost stood still.

This flush will be one of the biggest ever for the Snowy.

But environmentalists warn the river is still at risk of regressing to sludge without an independent monitor.

In 2013, the NSW Government abolished the Snowy’s scientific monitor and a replacement body, announced in 2014, has not yet been established.

In a statement, the NSW Department of Industry said it was still discussing the river’s management and would review re-establishing the body once that was completed.

“Meanwhile, environmental water releases, designed to mimic the natural flow characteristics of the river, are continuing,” the statement read.

‘It’s only just got into the recovery room’

Snowy River Alliance chair Vickii Wallace said without an advisory body none of that water is guaranteed.

“The Snowy was on life support for 43 years. It’s only just got into the recovery room,” she said.

“And there is no entity, no independent entity, that has been managing any of the flows.

“We now are still sitting four years later; we’ve lost the scientific committee and there’s nothing in place [to monitor the river’s health].”

Ms Wallace pointed to the ABC’s Four Corners’ investigation into allegations of water theft and improper pumping in the Murray Darling Basin as justification for her concerns about the New South Wales Government’s management of the river.

“This river has committed so much of its energy and lifeblood to going out west,” she said.

“It translates into something like $3 billion worth of agricultural benefits, and for that the Snowy needs a leg up, and that’s what it’s currently getting.

“But you know, none of this water is ever going to be guaranteed for the Snowy.”

She said while 2017 was a good year for the Snowy, with sightings of platypuses and people using the river for recreational activities, if another drought struck there was no guarantee that river levels would not fall dramatically.

Topics: environment, rivers, health, dalgety-2628, nsw, act, canberra-2600

First posted October 04, 2017 13:29:47