The Jindabyne Dam spillway gates will open on Wednesday, October 4, sending the largest release of water down the Snowy River for the year.
Environmental and community groups welcome this large environmental flushing flow and are holding the annual Snowy River Day to celebrate the occasion.
Snowy River Alliance (SRA) chair Vickii Wallace said the release has been timed to mimic melting snow in spring.
“This water release is part of the restoration of the Snowy River after the construction of the Snowy Hydro scheme, which was completed in 1974. The Jindabyne Dam reduced the Snowy to one per cent of its original flow, which caused the river to silt up and allowed willows and blackberries to take over,” Mrs Wallace said.
“We have a great program organised which we hope the community will support.”
The Dalgety Hall will be set up with displays from local businesses, with some entertaining videos of paddlers on the mighty Snowy River in flood, and a famous historic 1937 video of two men, Hanson and Hunt, paddling the river in their Huon pine canoe.
“And of course there will be the usual good country hospitality with free refreshments, free barbecue lunch and afternoon barbecue at the end of the day,” Mrs Wallace said.
Paddlers will come from near and far to ride the big water which will be released for eight hours, from 7am to 3pm.
There will be a number of speakers including the former NSW government Environment minister, Bob Debus AM. Mr Debus was responsible for bringing about the agreement with the Commonwealth, Victorian and NSW Governments in 2000, to restore environmental water flows to the Snowy River, from one per cent flow up to 28 per cent.
Mrs Wallace believes that while the Snowy River Day is a time to honour this momentous decision by three governments, with $1.2 billion invested to address the health of the river, there is still important work to be done to ensure these gains are not lost.
“The Snowy was on life support for 43 years. It’s only just got into the recovery room,” Mrs Wallace said.
“The independent Snowy Scientific Committee put in place to monitor the health of the river, was abolished in 2013 by an Act of parliament. It was to be replaced by a new Snowy Advisory Committee in 2014. That Act still has not been proclaimed and therefore we have been without any credible independent review for over three years. We will be seeking clarification of this with both Ministers Upton and Blair and also the Deputy Premier our local member John Barilaro.”
Mrs Wallace said the current 10 year Snowy Licence Review appears to be intentionally narrow and excludes environmental water issues, which is also completely unacceptable.
“We believe the Snowy has been subject to interference by senior DPI Water bureaucrats, similar to that revealed in the recent ABC 4 Corners program “Pumped”. Key programs affecting the Snowy’s long term management and critically important scientific and cultural staff have been made redundant,” she said.
Luke Pope from South East Local Land Services will outline the Snowy River recovery work and regional economic benefits of a healthy Snowy River.
The new role Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) will have advising the annual pattern of Snowy River flows to DPI Water and how OEH manages environmental water flows in other valleys will be presented by Graeme Enders, Director South West regional operations at NSW OEH.
Scientist, Dr Teresa Rose will pay a tribute to the late Professor Wayne Erskine, who was instrumental in addressing the need for environmental flows for the Snowy River, and provide an overview of her research on the impact of the environmental water releases on the Snowy River.
Snowy Hydro will present information on the modifications to the Jindabyne Dam spillway to enable large environmental water releases.
Richard Swain from Alpine River Adventures will share indigenous connections to the Snowy River and tell some paddling stories.
The Department of Primary Industries Water has named this high flow release (8,088 ML) “Wai-Garl”, the Maneroo – Ngarigo word for native Black Fish.
The Snowy River Day is hosted by the Snowy River Alliance and the Dalgety District and Community Association, supported by the South East Local Land Services and the Snowy Monaro Regional Council.