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What is it?
The Snowy Mountains Scheme consists of:
Sixteen major dams
Seven power stations
A pumping station
225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts
It is one of the worlds largest engineering projects; and is the
largest in Australia
The purpose of the scheme is to collect water from melting snow
and rain in the Snowy Mountains. Where once most of this water
used to flow into the Snowy River, it is now diverted through
tunnels in the mountains and stored in dams. The water is then
used by the power stations to create electricity
The water then flows mainly into the Murray and Murrumbidgee
Rivers. These rivers are important for irrigation of farms and for
household water for communities in New South Wales, Victoria
and South Australia. A small proportion of the water flows into the
Snowy River.…read more

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Why was it built?
The plan was to divert the waters of the Snowy
Mountains Region to provide increased electricity
generating capacity and to provide irrigation water
for the dry west
The aim was to use water effectively
Economically, the scheme was and is important
for several reasons. It provided work for tens of
thousands of people at a time when
unemployment was high
The scheme used sophisticated technology for its
time, and this alone gave Australia greater status
in an increasingly technology-driven world.…read more

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Negative environmental impacts of
the scheme.
When dams were built, some eco-systems that were
habitats for plants and animals were flooded.
Diverting and storing water for the scheme has
changed the nature of the Snowy River and other
rivers in the region. In some places, the Snowy River
carries only one per cent of the water that it used to
before the scheme was built; it is argued that the
rivers ecology is collapsing
Dry land salinity in the western farmlands; threat has
resulted from a rising salt table (caused by excessive
irrigation) was another major concern.
Rice is the main summer crop in the Murray and
Murrumbidgee valleys of western NSW. Fields,
remain flooded for 4-5 months and therefore need…read more

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Environmental and social
The Snowy Mountains Scheme provides about
74% of available renewable energy on the eastern
mainland Australian electricity grid and 28%
nationwide; a displacement of 5 million tonnes of
greenhouse gases.
The schemes scenic lakes and reservoirs
provides tourist attractions for hundreds of visitors
every year.
Farmlands irrigated by the Snowy water produce
millions of dollars worth of crops every year, for
the national and international markets. Irrigation
sustains dozens of agricultural communities in this
region of Australia.…read more


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