Abstract: The study aims to describe the social arrangements and cultural practices relating to water and to document the Indigenous knowledge of groundwater and surface water sources held by cultural groups in the vicinity of the regional centre of Katherine. An emphasis on the environmental management and governance frameworks affecting water management is especially relevant to the Katherine case-study because of recent increases in the commercial demand for water. A water allocation plan is now in preparation and will be looking to address Indigenous values relating to water and Indigenous people’s direct requirements for water. The scope of this study includes the customary relationships to water and Indigenous hydrological knowledge of Aboriginal groups in the Katherine area and the impediments to continued customary use of water sources. The study also examines how rights to water and management responsibilities are conceived and applied in context of the land use history of the area as well as present and future economic and commercial use of water supplies. Water planning processes govern current water use and will play a significant role in determining patterns of future water use. Northern Territory legislation guides these processes; however, they are also influenced by national water policy. For this reason, issues relevant to Indigenous participation in water planning and the potential impacts arising from inadequate attention to Indigenous interests are considered in this report.
Notes: prepared for NAILSMA’s Indigenous Water Policy Group