The Snowy Hydro Scheme

Alright. So, today’s Aussie fact. It’s all about the Snowy Hydro Scheme. And so, my thought pattern was, okay, the phrase is ‘on thin ice’. What is there in Australia that is ice or snow or the cold that I can talk about? And I thought about the Snowy Mountains, and then I thought about the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme. So, I wonder if you guys have heard about this.

So, what is it. The Snowy Hydro Scheme is a hydroelectricity and irrigation complex in south-east Australia. The Scheme consists of 16 major dams, seven power stations, one pumping station, and over 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines, and aqueducts that were constructed between the years of 1949 and 1974. So, (it) went for about 25 years.

Astonishingly, only 2% of the construction work is visible above the ground. It was completed on time and in budget in 1974 at a total cost of $820 million dollars, which today, is the equivalent of more than $6 billion dollars. Pretty Penny.

So, this scheme was the largest-ever engineering project undertaken in Australia and was overseen by Chief Engineer, Sir William Hudson. Around two thirds of the workforce employed in the construction of the Snowy Hydro Scheme were recently-arrived immigrant workers desperate for work who originated from over 30 different foreign countries. The total number of workers on the Scheme was more than 100,000 in that 25-year period, and the official death toll reached 121 people. I don’t know if that’s a lot or if that’s not very many. Sounds like a lot.

At the completion of the project, the Australian government maintained much of the diverse workforce and created the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, SMEC, which remains an international engineering consultancy company up to today.

So, why was the Snowy Hydro Scheme built? You know, why was it put into place?

The Snowy Hydro Scheme was implemented to solve a yearly problem for farmers and inhabitants of south eastern Victoria. So, every year here in the snowfields in the Australian Alps the snow would fall on the Great Dividing Range and it would melt in spring time and summer time obviously, and then flood the low-lying flood plains and river flats in places like East Gippsland in southeast Victoria as the water flowed out into Bass Strait and into the Tasman Sea. Thus, each year, farmers didn’t know if their crops would be ruined by these floods or not.

In order to divert the excess snowmelt water and spare the farmers their yearly headache, the Snowy Hydro scheme was implemented, and this had numerous benefits including channeling the water away from the farmers crops into the Murray and Murrumbidgee River irrigation areas, which allowed farmers to access this water via the irrigation systems, and also, they were able to harness the power of the water and turn into electricity using hydroelectricity. Right?

So, how was this done? The water falls about 800 meters and travels through large hydroelectric power stations, which generate peak-load power for the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and Victoria.

And in 2016, The Snowy Mountains Hydroelectricity System/Scheme, whatever you want to call it, was added to the Australian National Heritage List.

So, whether you’re into skiing and snowboarding, hiking or camping, or you just want to check out the dams and power plants and other things related to these Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme, the Snowy Mountains in the Australian Alps are definitely a beautiful spot worth checking out if you find yourself in the south east of Australia.


ST – Something

SO – Someone

SW – Somewhere

(Do ST) in budget – not exceeding the amount of money allotted for a project
(Do ST) on time – not exceeding the amount of time allotted for a project
A benefit – an advantage or profit gained from something.
A complex – consisting of many different and connected parts.
A consultancy company – a company that provides expert advice in a particular area for other companies
A crop – a cultivated plant that is grown on a large scale commercially, especially a cereal, fruit, or vegetable.
A dam – a barrier constructed to hold back water and raise its level, forming a reservoir used to generate electricity or as a water supply.
A flood – an overflow of a large amount of water beyond its normal limits, especially over what is normally dry land.
A flood plain – an area of low-lying ground adjacent to a river, formed mainly of river sediments and subject to flooding.
A pipeline – a long pipe, typically underground, for conveying oil, gas, etc. over long distances.
A power station – an installation where electrical power is generated for distribution.
A pumping station – a facility including pumps and equipment for pumping fluids from one place to another.
A river flat – a low flat area of land, usually wet land near a large area of water.
A scheme – a large-scale systematic plan or arrangement for attaining some particular object or putting a particular idea into effect.
A snowmelt – the melting of fallen snow.
A thought pattern – the way in which SO things (of ST)
A tunnel – an artificial underground passage, especially one built through a hill or under a building, road, or river.
A workforce – the people engaged in or available for work, either in a country or area or in a particular firm or industry.
An aqueduct – an artificial channel for conveying water, typically in the form of a bridge across a valley or other gap.
An immigrant worker – an employee from a foreign country
An inhabitant – SO living SW
An official death toll – the official number of deaths resulting from a particular cause.
Around (a number) – Approximately (a number)
Astonishingly – surprisingly; impressively
Bass Strait – a sea strait separating Tasmania from the Australian mainland, specifically the state of Victoria.
Channel ST – direct towards a particular end or object.
Complete ST – successfully finish ST.
Consist of ST – be composed or made up of ST.
Construct ST – build or make ST
Desperate (for ST) – feeling or showing a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad as to be impossible to deal with.
Divert ST – cause (someone or something) to change course or turn from one direction to another.
Diverse – showing a great deal of variety; very different.
East Gippsland – a local government area in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, located in the eastern part of the state.
Excess – an amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.
Flow out (into ST) – for a liquid to move out of ST (and into ST else)
Foreign – of, from, in, or characteristic of a country or language other than one’s own.
Harness ST – control and make use of (natural resources), especially to produce energy.
Hear about ST – learn about ST for the first time
Hydro – a hydroelectric power plant.
Hydroelectricity – referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water.
Implement ST – put (a decision, plan, agreement, etc.) into effect.
Irrigation – the supply of water to land or crops to help growth, typically by means of channels.
Largest-ever – biggest thing in history.
Low-lying – at low altitude above sea level.
Major – significant.
Melt – make or become liquefied by heating.
Oversee ST – supervise (a person or their work), especially in an official capacity.
Peak-load power – (in energy demand management) describing a period in which electrical power is expected to be provided for a sustained period at a significantly higher than average supply level.
Put ST into place – establish or set up ST.
Recently-arrived – reaching a place in the recent past.
Related to ST – connected with ST; linked with ST.
Ruin ST – reduce (a building or place) to a state of decay, collapse, or disintegration.
Sounds like… – appears like…; seems as if…
Spare SO ST – refrain from inflicting (something unpleasant) on (someone).
Spring time – the season of spring.
Summer time – the season of summer.
The Great Dividing Range – Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. … The width of the range varies from about 160 km (100 mi) to over 300 km (190 mi).
The Tasman Sea – a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean, situated between Australia and New Zealand.
Undertake ST – commit oneself to and begin (an enterprise or responsibility); take on.
Up to today – until today.
Worth (doing) – used to suggest that the specified course of action may be advisable.
Yearly – occurring every year.