Snowy River high-flows to commence in June 2020

The first of four planned high-flow environmental water releases during winter and spring to the Snowy River are set to commence in late June 2020, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Acting Director Water Planning Implementation, Allan Raine, said.

‘These high-flow water releases are designed to better mimic the natural flow characteristics that are seen in Snowy Mountain rivers, with the aim of improving the long-term health of the iconic Snowy River,’ Mr Raine said.

‘The release of environmental water into the Snowy River over a series of high-flow events has been successfully trialled over a number of years.

‘This year (2020) there are two scheduled releases in winter and two in spring, to reflect the natural timing of likely high-flow events, while the amount of water being released this year (2020) is less than previous years as a direct result of the drought.

‘Downstream landholders and visitors to the area are being encouraged to make appropriate plans ahead of the water releases, including moving stock or pumps and infrastructure to higher ground and being aware of flows.’

The planned 2020 high-flow releases are:

  • Monday 29 June 2020 – equivalent peak flow 3,500 megalitres (ML)/day (d) for eight hours
  • Monday 27 July 2020 – equivalent peak flow 1,600 ML/d for eight hours
  • Thursday 3 September 2020 – equivalent peak flow 4,500 ML/d for eight hours (largest flow)
  • Wednesday 28 October 2020 – equivalent peak flow 1,500 ML/d for eight hours

‘This flow pattern includes a higher degree of daily and seasonal flow variability which assists the river to re-establish stream function, including scouring and improve in-stream habitat.’

Mr Raine said the results from previous studies show the Snowy River is responding well to these seasonal high-flow events and this continuing approach had received input this year from the Snowy Advisory Committee.

‘This year’s high-flow events consist of four smaller release events over winter and spring as a result of the limited water availability due to the severity of the drought, which reflects the natural cycles of the Snowy system.

‘This series of winter/spring releases will help to promote channel function within the remnant bed of the Snowy River, wet the riparian zone and promote the establishment of aquatic and riparian vegetation,’ said Mr Raine.

Environmental water releases to the Snowy River are mandated under the Snowy Water Inquiry Outcomes Implementation Deed 2002, a tri-government agreement between the Australian, New South Wales and Victorian Governments, to achieve improvements in Snowy River health.

Further information about the Snowy River environmental releases is available on the department’s website.

Source: NSW Government