Australian Capital Territory
I strongly object to the entire concept of Snowy 2.0. It is financially and environmentally irresponsible for the government to try to push this to fruition.
Before the first clod of soil has been turned, we have already seen the cost of the project increase from $2billion to over $5billion, without even including the installation of transmission infrastructure. The closure or part closures of both Talbingo and Tantangara Dams will affect revenue for local businesses who supply equipment for fishing and camping. Tourism will suffer. Also, the entire concept of pumping water to Tantangara using "off-peak" electricity, is in defiance of improving CO2 emissions. The same energy that pumps the water uphill at night time will be sourced from coal fired power stations, because solar does not make power at night. Pumped hydro was a great "battery" concept back in the 1950s when off-peak electricity helped stabilise the power grid, but it is not suitable as a bulk energy storage system today when coal is being replaced as an electricity source.
Environmentally, the Snowy 2.0 project does not make things any better. Putting the spoils of the tunnel excavations into the bottom of Talbingo Dam reduces it's storage capacity. With drought affecting the nation presently and forecasts of even dryer conditions, how is reducing our catchments a smart idea? Also, the quality of water is a big concern, especially for the trout in the dam. I have been a trout fisherman for over four decades in the Snowy region and anything which could lessen the number of trout in the area is bad for me and bad for fishermen who come from far and wide to catch the beautiful species that have lived there for generations. I'm sure the N.S.W government will have no plans to help re-populate the fish, nor to stop the spread of Redfin. It will only take a few hundred eggs to get sucked into Tantangara and that ecology will be destroyed by this invasive species.
Also, with all that water moving rapidly, how will the trout in Tantangara Dam handle the inevitable clouded water from the extra currents? Tantangara is not like Talbingo Dam, in that the bottom is mainly mud and silt instead of rocks. Any extra flow from pumping water will stir up this silt and create a place where trout cannot survive. For evidence of the trouts' inability to cope with this continuous change in water quality, look no further than Blowering Dam which has lost most of its trout fishing stock due to silt muddying the water, constantly changing levels and invasive species eating up their offspring.
With Tantangara then becoming a part of the hydro scheme, how will the flow of water into the Murrumbidgee River be maintained? Already there have been studies that show insufficient flows to maintain habitats prior to the weir's construction. How then, when Tantangara is interlinked with this new system, do they plan to keep enough water running into the Murrumbidgee River? It will probably come from Talbingo, if that decision is made, but then it's storage will be further reduced.
In conclusion, I submit that the Snowy 2.0 project is not just financially and environmentally unsound, but also that there are better ways for the N.S.W and Australian Federal Government to spend this enormous amount of money. Whilst energy is a big issue at the moment, I believe water is an even bigger problem. Why should we be toying around with hair-brained schemes designed last century, instead of looking at 21st Century technology and ideas for powering our country. Building a power generation system that relies on water, when drought is and continues to wipe out livelihoods, just defies belief. How can a government with any wisdom look for a solution to a crisis, by relying on another system that is also facing a crisis. There must be a smarter way.