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The Northern Territory has a wide diversity of waters, ranging from springs, temporary and perennial streams and rivers, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater.

These waters are important both to the economy of the Northern Territory and for the many recreational benefits they provide. They also have their own intrinsic natural and cultural values.

The continued health of the Northern Territory creeks, rivers, estuaries and oceans is vital. Maintenance of water quality, aquatic biodiversity and habitats is critical for ecological, economic and social well-being.

The NT EPA has a role in preventing pollution of waterways under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998 and also supports the Northern Territory Government’s role in preventing pollution under other legislation.

Report water pollution

Developing standards for water quality

The National Water Quality Management Strategy provides the overarching framework for the management of water quality and water resources in Australia.

The initiatives and programs under this strategy are currently being hosted by the Commonwealth webpage, Water Quality Australia.

Guidelines for water quality management were developed as part of the National Water Quality Management Strategy.

An important part of water quality management is to identify how the community values and uses a water resource. Beneficial uses describe how a water resource benefits the community. In the Northern Territory (NT) beneficial uses or values have been set for major aquifers and river catchments.

These values are then used to set water quality targets. Under the Water Act 1992, administered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, statutory Beneficial Use Declarations have been made for waterways in the Northern Territory.

Management of water quality for natural and semi-natural water resources is guided by the Australian and New Zealand Water Quality Guidelines. These guidelines are used for establishing performance criteria for waste water discharges under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998 and also inform the Darwin Harbour Water Quality Protection Plan.

Monitoring and assessing water quality

The Northern Territory government and science providers are monitoring and assessing the quality of Northern Territory waters, for example:

Management of urban stormwater

Management of stormwater is an important aspect of water quality management activities at the catchment, waterway and local level.

The Australian Guidelines for Urban Stormwater Management (historical guidelines) provide guidance for ecologically sustainable approach to managing stormwater. In the Northern Territory, the NT EPA has published the following guidelines:

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