11 September 2019

New body to advise on Snowy River flows from hydro scheme

| Ian Campbell
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Water gushing from Jindabyne Dam. Photo: NSW Water.

Water gushing from Jindabyne Dam. Photo: NSW Water.

A new advisory committee has been established to guide the NSW Government’s management of water flows out of the Snowy Hydro Scheme and into the Snowy River catchment.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro has welcomed the inaugural Snowy Advisory Committee (SAC), which has been established to provide expert and local input into the design of environmental flows within the iconic river system.

Mr Barilaro believes the SAC will allow greater transparency of environmental water strategies in the area and will help boost the health of local rivers.

“The Committee will be independently chaired by honorary ANU Associate Professor Terry Bailey, former Chief Executive of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage,” Mr Barilaro says.

“He will be joined on the Committee by an impressive group of local community, environmental, Aboriginal and general representatives from the NSW and Victorian Governments to ensure all interests in the Snowy region are fairly represented.

“The first task of the Committee will be to advise the NSW Government on the Snowy River environmental water strategies for 2019-2020.”

The former six member Snowy Scientific Committee was scrapped in 2014, at the time the then NSW Water Minister Kevin Humphries described the body as being ‘out of touch’.

“None of those people lived in the catchment,” he told ABC.

Paddlers in the lower Snowy River. Photo: NPWS Luke McLachlan

Paddlers in the lower Snowy River. Photo: NPWS Luke McLachlan

Mr Barilaro says he is confident the Government has found the right people with the right knowledge and skills in the management of water to strike a balance between community interests, technical expertise, and Government policy.

The new eight-member SAC consists of:

  • Associate Professor Terry Bailey as the Independent Chair
  • Aunty Doris Paton, from Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Land Corporation
  • Robert Caune, from Gippsland Angling Clubs Association and Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body – VRFish
  • Vickii Wallace, member of the Snowy River Alliance
  • Dr Fiona Dyer, Snr Research Fellow, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra
  • Aunty Iris White, representing Aboriginal interests
  • Graeme Enders, Director SW regional operations, NSW Office of Environment & Heritage
  • Graeme Dear, CEO, East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, Victoria

Terry Bailey says he is thrilled to Chair the new Committee.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with such a diverse and respected cross-section of the community on the Snowy Advisory Committee,” he says.

“The Snowy River and broader region are very important. This committee will provide vital community and expert input and has a lot to offer the future management of the river.”

Longtime river activist and member of Snowy River Keepers, Acacia Rose says generally speaking the SAC is a good balance of people.

Initially, the Water Minister indicated the SAC would comprise of 13 members, if more members are to be appointed, Ms Rose is hoping the catchment of the upper Snowy River might be better represented and considered in the future.

“Increase the scope of the Committee to include more water and river scientists,” she says.

Indigenous representation on the SAC has been welcomed, especially the inclusion of two women, Aunty Doris Paton and Aunty Iris White. Much of the Aboriginal culture and heritage around water is seen as women’s business or having a maternal interest.

Ms Rose is hopeful the voice of local Aboriginal people will be heard and respected through the community networks.

Mr Barilaro says, “Committee appointments are for up to three years and additional specialised expertise will be brought in to inform the committee when required.”

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