There are four major dams and multiple diversion weirs in the upper Snowy River catchment that divert water to the Murrumbidgee and Murray River valleys. The hydrological
effects of the Snowy Mountains Scheme are substantial, but they are partly alleviated by the contribution of flows from tributaries (such as the Delegate River in NSW and the Buchan and Brodribb rivers in Victoria).
Construction and operation of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme previously diverted 99 percent of the Snowy River’s mean annual natural flow at Jindabyne. The loss of flow changed the structure and function of the river, reduced the opening of the Snowy River entrance to Bass Strait and resulted in a decline in environmental values.
The Victorian, NSW and Commonwealth governments have recovered water to help restore damage done by decades of limited flow. Victorian water for the environment available for use in the Snowy system is held in the Murray, Goulburn and Loddon systems. This water is made available for environmental flows in the Snowy River via a substitution method, whereby Victorian water for the environment replaces water that was earmarked for transfer from the Snowy to Victoria to support irrigation demands. The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment plans environmental flow releases in the Snowy River, in consultation with the Victorian Government.