Territory Stories

Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks



Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks

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Environment Protection Agency.


Environment Protection Agency (Northern Territory); Northern Territory. Department Of Lands, Planning And Environment


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT





Table of contents

Executive summary -- Introduction -- 1. Background -- 1.1 Terms of reference -- 1.2 Scope and structure of the review -- 1.3 Ecologically sustainable development and governance -- 1.4 Ecologically sustainable development, principles and criteria -- 1.5 The Darwin Harbour Region -- 2. Ecologically sustainable development in legislation, policies and plans -- 2.1 Strategic development and management -- 2.2 Land use -- 2.3 Minerals, extractive materials and petroleum -- 2.4 Ports -- 2.5 Pollution, waste and public health -- 2.6 Water -- 2.7 Fisheries and marine areas -- 2.8 Biodiversity, heritage and natural resource management -- 2.9 Environmental assessment -- 3. Discussion and findings -- 4. Advice.




Darwin Harbour -- Environmental aspects; Environmental management -- Northern Territory -- Darwin Harbour

Publisher name

Environment Protection Agency

Place of publication



vii, 59 p. : col. ills. ; 30 cm.

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Copyright owner

Environment Protection Agency



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33 inherent public interest nature of the legislation, the public should be able to access information regarding registered businesses and the conditions under which they operate. Water Act Section 16 of the Northern Territory Water Act prohibits the pollution of water. Section 74 of the Water Act permits authorisation of waste discharge to water. This authorisation takes the form of a Waste Discharge Licence (WDL). WDLs are regulatory instruments used to regulate the quality and quantity of wastewater created by industrial and commercial operations that are then discharged to receiving waters in the NT. Licences can only be issued where beneficial uses or water quality objectives for the receiving waters have been declared by notification in the Gazette pursuant with Section 73 of the Water Act. Beneficial uses (or environmental values) include ecosystem protection, drinking water, recreation and cultural use, agricultural supply and industrial use. The preferred process for selection of the beneficial uses is via public stakeholder consultation in accordance with the National Water Quality Management Strategy. The Water Act has been used to regulate a number of uses within Darwin Harbour. This includes Power and Water operations (wastewater treatment facilities), aquaculture facilities, dredging operations (disposal of spoil) and marinas. Licences are issued on a site by site basis but are guided by declared beneficial uses or water quality objectives determined for Darwin Harbour. Beneficial uses have been declared for Darwin Harbour and marine reaches of rivers and creeks draining into the Harbour. Diffuse sources of potential pollutants are not regulated by the Water Act, however, as discussed in the next section, government has adopted initiatives such as applying Water Sensitive Urban Design principles in decision making. In early June 2010, the Department of Health and Families (DHF) closed beaches in the Darwin area to swimming and fishing due to the detection of high counts of E. coli and Enterococci bacteria in the sea water which were above public health safety guidelines. This was followed by an announcement in mid June by NRETAS that an algal bloom (Lyngbya majuscula) was to be cleaned up from various beaches. Since then DHF, NRETAS, Power and Water Corporation (PWC) and the Darwin City Council (DCC) have been undertaking extensive water quality monitoring and testing throughout the Darwin Harbour region, including beach water, tidal creeks, lagoons, sewerage outfall sites and mixing zones, and stormwater sites. The EPA has maintained a watching brief on this situation. Marine Pollution As indicated in the Territory 2030 Strategic Plan14 and Darwin Port Corporations MasterPlan 2030, there are significant expansions planned for the wharf and port facilities located in Darwin Harbour. Similarly, urbanisation within the catchment and 14 NTG 2009