A growing population created a need to direct water inland for irrigation and to help during droughts.
By 1946 hydro-electricity production was also part of the plan.
The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Power Act was passed on 7 July 1949.
This set up the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority to manage the project.
The authority began on 1 August 1949 with New Zealand-born engineer William Hudson as commissioner.
The Governor-General of Australia, Sir William McKell, pressed a button to fire the first blast on 17 October 1949. This marked the official start of the scheme.
Achievements—a race against time
Commissioner Hudson needed quick results to silence the Snowy’s many doubters.
The first power from the Snowy flowed from Guthega power station on 21 February 1955.
Construction contracts were given to overseas and Australian companies.
American firm Kaiser-Walsh-Perini-Raymond (Kaiser) became a leader in engineering in Australia. The firm regularly broke tunnelling records and completed projects ahead of time.
In 1958 Thiess Brothers became the first Australian company to win a major contract on the Snowy. They built a quarter of the entire scheme.
In 1963, Thiess drilled 165 metres in a six-day week in the Snowy-Geehi tunnel.
Snowy scientists and engineers refined the technique of rockbolting where tension bolts are used to compress broken or jointed rock into a self-supporting arch structure.
This was a landmark achievement in civil engineering and mining.
The scheme also pioneered the compulsory use of seat belts in vehicles.