AIMS studies of water quality of the greater Darwin Harbour have established high quality baseline information that will allow the detection of changes caused by human activities.
The Darwin Harbour estuary has a high tidal range (up to almost eight metres) and, despite high turbidity, good water quality.
The extensive mangrove communities fringing the harbour are largely undisturbed and, at present levels of development, the Darwin Harbour ecosystem remains generally healthy.
Management issues include:
- point-source discharges of contaminants, nutrients and sediments
- treated sewage
- land use and management
- diffuse contamination of waters by storm water
- native vegetation clearing and reclamation of coastal, catchment and riparian vegetation for development
- dredging of harbour and dumping of dredged soil, and oil and chemical spill contingency planning and response.
The understanding of the main ecosystem process controlling nutrient cycling gained in the AIMS’s studies of the Harbour is crucial in the light of Darwin's continuing economic development.