The Snowy Mountains Scheme, including its nine hydroelectric power stations, was added to Australia’s National Heritage List on Oct. 14.
The scheme collects and stores water that would normally flow east to the coast and diverts it through trans-mountain tunnels and power stations. The water is then released into the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers for irrigation.
The scheme was constructed from 1949 to 1974 by more than 100,000 workers. The entire Snowy Mountains region was changed, with many of the workers migrating to Australia from Europe after World War II. Two existing townships relocated to accommodate the scheme’s infrastructure.
The scheme includes 80 km of aqueduct pipelines, 13 major tunnels more than 145 km long, seven power stations, eight switching stations and control centers and 16 major dams. The scheme has a total capacity of 3,950 MW and provides 32% of all renewable energy fed into the eastern mainland grid, powering Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
The hydropower stations are 80-MW Blowering, 60-MW Guthega, 950-MW Murray, 1, 550-MW Murray 2, 329.6-MW Tumut 1, 286.4-MW Tumut 2, and 1,500-MW Tumut 3, as well as the 1.1-MW Jindabyne Mini and 14.4-MW Jounama Small hydro stations. The scheme also has one pumping station at Jindabyne and a pumped-storage facility at the Tumut 3 station.
“The scheme is the most significant project to be undertaken as part of the post-war reconstruction program and has become an enduring symbol of Australia’s identity as a multicultural, independent, and resourceful country.”
Snowy Hydro Limited owns and maintains the scheme.