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Sewage Controls Needed In spite of Healthy Harbour Report

by Ellen Hardy
20 March 2008, at 12:00am

AUSTRALIA - Tidal fluctuations in Darwin Harbour are challenging a major research project, says scientists. However, findings are proving water quality is good.

According to ABC News, Dr Jodie Smith of Geoscience Australia says natural tidal fluctuations are proving to be a challenge as she tries to evaluate of the atmosphere's role in recycling nutrients is a first for northern Australia. Her research is aiming to measure how the atmosphere impacts on the cycle of nutrients such as nitrogen, which contributes to algal blooms.

"We are measuring the nutrients coming into the system but also looking at them coming out of the system. One of the important processes that we are measuring is called de-nitrophication and it's a process that occurs in the sediments where nitrogen is actually converted to gas and removed from the water and the sediments back into the atmosphere," she explains.

"It's very important because it's actually never been measured in Darwin Harbour before."

Geoscience Australia is among the agencies collaborating as part of the multi-million dollar Tropical Research and Coastal Knowledge research project.

Evidence

While the high tides are making research difficult, evidence is accumulating they are also proving a solid defence to sewage pumped into the harbour.

Despite this, the chair of the Darwin Harbour Advisory Committee has renewed calls for the Larrakeyah 'poo shooter' to be closed.

The advisory committee is working on a new water quality protection plan which will help advise the Territory and federal governments on how to protect the harbour.

Mr Bailey says introducing treatment for all of Darwin's sewerage systems will be an important part of the committee's plan.

View the ABC News story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy