A NSW Government website

Snowy Scheme

Snowy Water Licence

Information about the Snowy Water Licence, which defines Snowy Hydro’s rights and obligations in relation to water in the Snowy scheme.

Talbingo Dam

About the Snowy Water Licence

The Snowy Water Licence (PDF, 4097.51 KB) (the licence) defines Snowy Hydro’s rights and obligations in relation to water in the Snowy scheme. The licence allows Snowy Hydro to collect, divert, store, and release water by and from the works of the Snowy 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 Snowy Hydro for the benefit of the Snowy River and other montane rivers (the rivers of the Snowy Mountains).

The licence is a NSW water licence issued and administered by the Water Administration Ministerial Corporation (WAMC), which is a statutory body established under the Water Management Act 2000 to represent the Crown and carry out various water management functions.

Snowy Hydro Annual Water Operating Plan

The licence requires that Snowy Hydro prepare and comply with an Annual Water Operating Plan (AWOP), to provide government with details on how the scheme is intended to be operated, particularly in relation to water releases for the environment and Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers.

Since 2020 Snowy Hydro are also required to publish a public version of the AWOP, which is made available on their website.  Publishing the AWOP increases transparency around the management of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and provides information that helps downstream water authorities and water users plan their water use for the upcoming year.

Reviews of the Snowy Water Licence

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

5 year review

A five-year review was commenced in 2007 and completed in 2009.

10 year review

About the review

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

The NSW Government released its final report on the 10-year review of the Snowy water licence in December 2018.

The review received 40 submissions from stakeholders including Snowy Hydro; 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 department in meeting the conditions of the licence.

In response, the review identified 10 actions for administrative amendments to the licence and 13 actions relating to further investigating options to better manage environmental flows and improve current water release rules.

10-Year Licence Review documents

See key deliverables from the review below:

Submissions received

Submissions received during the 10-year Snowy Water Licence Review

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.

We received the following submissions during the first round of submissions in 2017.

The following submissions were received on the draft 10-Year Snowy Water Licence Review Report in 2018:

Licence review implementation program

About the program

The actions of the 10-Year Licence Review are now being implemented through the Licence Review Implementation Program. The department is leading this work with the support of Snowy Hydro and other government agencies and committees with a direct interest in water regulated and released from the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Status of the program

You can find a summary of the actions and status of implementation in the table below.

Actions Status of implementationTiming
Administrative licence amendments The department amended the Snowy water licence to increase transparency, simplify provisions, secure current practice and fix known errors. Completed 2020
Best Practice Licence Management The department re-established the Snowy Water Government Officials Committee and is developing regulatory policies and procedures to ensure best practice management of the licence. 2023
Environmental water delivery investigations The department and key stakeholders are investigating better ways to deliver Snowy River and Snowy Montane Rivers increased flows. 2023
Water release investigations The department and key stakeholders are investigating inefficient water use, reviewing the effectiveness of amendments made to the licence in 2011 and removing licence ambiguities. 2023
Second round of licence amendments The Snowy water licence will be varied to implement the recommendations arising from the investigations. 2023


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

Licence Review Implementation Program documents

You can access the documents from the program below:

What's new - Update on review actions

The department is making significant progress on implementing actions from the 10-year Snowy Water Licence Review.

If you missed the webinars, you can watch the recordings below. We have also published the presentations and you can download the Q&A (PDF, 11068.62 KB) of questions received via email and taken on notice during the webinars.

Environmental flow investigations

7 February 2024 – An update on the Licence Review actions relating to delivery of environmental flows to the Snowy River.

Water release investigations

14 February 2024 – An update on the Licence Review actions relating to water releases into the regulated Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers.

Water release investigations

22 February 2024 – A repeat of the webinar from 14 February, for those that couldn’t attend.


A presentation was given during the webinar about environmental flow investigations.

Download the presentation from webinar 1 (PDF. 28,000KB)


A presentation was given during the webinar about water release investigations.

Download the presentation from webinar 2 (PDF. 6,600KB)