Snowy Water Licence

Snowy Hydro Limited (SHL), the operator of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme, issued with a package of agreements, licences and other regulatory instruments in preparation for corporatisation in 2002. One component of this package was the Snowy Water Licence issued on 30 May 2002 under the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Act 1997 (NSW).

The Snowy Water Licence defines SHL's water rights and obligations and strikes a balance between the competing demands for water for hydro-electricity generation and for the environment. The licence allows SHL to collect, divert, store, and release water by and from the works of the Snowy Mountains Scheme for the 75 year term of the licence. The licence also defines the rules for releases into the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers and imposes environmental flow release obligations on SHL for the benefit of the Snowy River and other montane rivers (the rivers of the Snowy Mountains).

For more information download the Snowy Water Licence – October 2011 ((PDF 415.0 KB)).

Reviews of the Snowy Water Licence

The licence is subject to mandatory reviews under the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Act 1997 (the Act), initially after five years and then at intervals of 10 years. A five-year review was commenced in 2007 and completed in 2009.

The first 10-year mandatory review of the licence was commenced on 28 June 2017 and completed in December 2018.

Ten-year review

The NSW Government has released its report on the 10-year review of the Snowy water licence.

The review received 40 submissions from stakeholders including SHL; a range of community, environmental and agricultural groups; government agencies; and individuals from across south-east Australia. An independent expert panel also reviewed the performance of SHL and the NSW Department of Industry in meeting the conditions of the licence.

In response, the review identifies administrative amendments to the licence and proposes further investigating options to better manage environmental flows and improve current water release rules. Actions arising from the review will improve licence oversight and coordination of environmental water management in the Snowy Mountains.

A summary of the actions arising from the review is provided below:

Measure Summary of actionsTiming
Administrative licence amendments The department will vary the Snowy water licence to increase transparency, simplify provisions, secure current practice and fix known errors. 2019
Snowy Mountains region water management The department will review and update its regulatory policies and procedures specific to the licence, and re-establish the Snowy Water Government Officials Committee. 2019
Environmental water delivery investigations The department and key stakeholders will explore better ways to deliver Snowy River and Snowy Montane Rivers increased flows. 2020
Water release investigations The department and key stakeholders will investigate inefficient water use, review the effectiveness of amendments made to the licence in 2011 and remove licence ambiguities. 2020
Second round of licence amendments The Snowy water licence will be varied to implement the recommendations arising from the investigations into environmental water delivery and water release requirements. 2021


The department will oversee the implementation of the actions with the support of SHL and other government agencies and committees with a direct interest in water regulated and released from the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

We will continue engaging and consulting with stakeholders and the community through formal project groups and public exhibition of proposed variations to the licence.

More information

Submissions received

The views expressed in the submissions are the views of the respondents. While the department seeks to ensure that defamatory material is not published, the department is not responsible for the views expressed in the submissions.

The following submissions were received during the first round in 2017.

The following submissions were received on the draft report in 2018.