Australian Capital Territory
This submission is in response to “Modification 2 Assessment Report – Exploratory Works for Snowy 2.0”, October 2019. I nparticular, ensuring continued access to the Talbingo Reservoir “Spillway” Recreation Area.
The Spillway Recreation Area (SRA) is a broad, wide, and gently sloping pebble beach that provides the safest and most amenable public access to Talbingo Reservoir. It is located at the northern end of the reservoir, close to the town of Talbingo (6 km or 10 minutes away). The next two points of public access are at the boat launch ramp on the dam wall immediately to the east, and at Lobbs Hole, over an hour away to the south. The Spillway Recreation Area (SRA) provides unique value to tourism in the region, especially for Talbingo where it is the primary public access to the reservoir.
Compared to other nearby lakes, Talbingo Reservoir has exceptionally high water quality, the water is consistently clear. Consistent water levels also promote safe and easy access to visitors and tourists; the pebble beach means that the foreshore is closely accessible to ordinary family cars in a manner unique in the entire Snowy Scheme.
Unlike all other access points, the pebble beach is formed on a large, flat excavation that forms the Talbingo Reservoir emergency spillway. This means that far more foreshore is accessible to the public compared to other sites that are restricted to small footprints due to the steep topography and adjoining Kosciuszko National Park. The gentle slope also means that the immediate waters are shallow and child friendly.
Unlike other points of access, the SRA is located in a sheltered inlet and is generally protected from the prevailing winds and waves, especially those topping the dam wall. Asides from the amenity, this is also a desirable safety feature when swimming with your family.
Therefore I am encouraged by the statements in section 3.5.1 “Talbingo Recreation Area” where a reduction in planned barge operations means “impacts to recreational users will be significantly reduced” as temporary use of barges for specific tasks is “expected to be a short term impact only”. Therefore my interpretation of section 3.5.1 is that there is no longer an intention to close the SRA on a permanent or extended basis. Provided my interpretation is correct and that suitable, I am supportive of this aspect of the proposed modification and therefore the project.
As major recreation and tourism impacts on the SRA have been avoided, Section 3.5.1 also seeks removal of Schedule 3, condition 4 of the Minister’s approval. This condition includes a number of conditions for Snowy Hydro to maintain recreation and tourism facilities before undertaking any action that impacts the amenity and availability of the SRA. While I agree that some of the detail is now irrelevant (assuming my interpretation is correct), I believe similar conditions should remain to ensure that if the “expected” outcome does not eventuate, community needs continue to be protected; for example ensuring that temporary barge activities are mindful of SRA amenity and values, or if environmental challenges for the Lobbs Hole Road force a rethink on transport strategy.
I take this opportunity note that preliminary investigation on developing the boat ramp as an alternative facility have found significant design, cost and funding challenges. I believe that any comparable facility at the boat ramp would be at a significant cost and have much greater long term maintenance costs when compared to a gravel beach.
Provided Snowy Hydro continue to work constructively with the community to maintain recreation and tourism values and suitably updated conditions are retained, I am conditionally supportive of this modification and the project, including the need for temporary closures to support barge operations.