Before the recent flooding, there was much lamenting about how there is never enough water in the Murray Darling Basin for both irrigated agriculture and also the environment. Yet in all this discussion no consideration has been given to the more integrated management of Snowy Hydro waters with management of water allocations within the Basin proper.
Over the recent drought years Snowy Hydro waters contributed to about 60 percent of inflows to the Murrumbidgee and 30 percent of inflows to the Murray River.
Since its corporatisation, the priority for Snowy Hydro has been electricity generation and so now, while the catchments are flooding, water is being taken by Snowy Hydro from Eucumbene Dam and sent through turbines before being released into Blowering Dam which is spilling into the saturated Murrumbidgee catchment.
An alternative management arrangement that gave precedence to water storage over electricity generation would undoubtedly see water being stored during this period of high flows in anticipation of the next drought.
Given the high inflows over recent months it is indeed extraordinary that Lake Eucumbene, the central storage system for the Snowy Hydro scheme, remains at less than 30 percent capacity and that water is being drawn from this storage for electricity generation.
Bronwyn Herbert has been considering these and other issues and her investigation will feature tonight on the ABC Television 7.30 Report*.
*The program can also be watched from your computer http://www.abc.net.au/iview/?gclid=CJaDoMLCiacCFQU3pAod5DUydQ#/series/7.30%20Report?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=CORP_srch_iview
For background on Snowy Hydro scroll here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/tag/snowy-hydro/