I. NATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INTO POLICY DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES
B. Existing regulatory systems
Mining projects require the discharge of solid waste and wastewater. Under the Water Resources Act all developers are required to apply for a water-use permit to discharge solid wastes or wastewater. The water-use permit confers the right to discharge solid wastes and wastewater in accordance with the prescribed consent conditions and standards. For example, a permit to discharge wastes into natural waters may have conditions setting the duration of the permit (on an interim or permanent basis), the physico-chemical and/or biological monitoring of ambient water quality at a mixing zone boundary, and the reporting procedures. Permits may be revoked for failure to comply with the consent conditions, and may also be revised based on an assessment of environmental reports submitted to the Bureau of Water Resources which is responsible for administering the Act.
The Water Resources Act, which was enacted in April 1982, is intended to provide protection for related natural resources of Papua New Guinea in accordance with the fourth goal of the national goals and Directive Principles, under Section 25 of the Papua New Guinea Constitution. It also makes provision for the management of water resources and the responsibility for that management. In compliance with constitutional requirements, the Act regulates or restricts a right or freedom referred to in Subdivision III.3C of the Constitution: (a) the freedom from arbitrary search and entry conferred by Section 44 of the Constitution; (b) the right to privacy conferred by Section 49 of the Constitution; and (c) the right or freedom to expression conferred by Section 46 of the Constitution.
Under the Water Resources Act the State regulates the rights to the use and control of the flow of water. However, the Act does not affect customary rights to the use of water by the local inhabitants in the area in which those customary rights are exercised. Also, a section of the Act does not apply to the use of water for: (a) domestic purposes; (b) prescribed recreational use: and (c) any prescribed purposes.
The administration of the Water Resources Act is undertaken by the Director of the Water Resources Board. Screening of applications for a water-use permit is undertaken by the Board, which comprises the director and Board members appointed by the minister responsible for the Water Resources Board. Under Section 15 of the Water Resources Act, the functions of the Board include examining problems and formulating plans regarding: (a) the allocation and quality of water; (b) the control of erosion on the banks of rivers and coastal shores, and control of flow and flooding in, and from, rivers and lakes; (c) the conservation of water; and (d) the needs of fisheries and wildlife, and recreational uses of water. The Board is required to advise the minister on any question related to the administration of the Act. It also coordinates all matters related to water in order to ensure that the resource will be able to meet as many demands as possible, and that it is used to the best advantage of the country and the region in which it exists.
The Water Resources Board is also responsible for: (a) controlling the damming, diversion, taking and use of water, and discharge of anything into the water; (b) guiding and encouraging research into matters related to the investigation and use of water resources including multiple uses; (c) allocating water resources between the competing demands; and (d) consulting with government bodies on the maximum utilization of water resources in the national interest. The minister may refer to the Board for advice on any question or matter related to the administration of the Act. Provision is made for the payment of compensation for the deprivation of: (a) the use and enjoyment of the surface of the land or any part of it; (b) the rights to use water customarily associated with the land, except where there has been a reservation in favour of the land or any part of it or improvements on it; or (c) the rights to use or enjoy any flora or fauna, caused by the carrying on of operations under a permit.
After considering an application under Section 28 of the Act, and before a water-use permit is granted, the Board is required to: (a) consult with any government agency that has an interest in the granting of the permit; (b) arrange for public hearings at which government agencies and the private sector may be heard; and (c) prepare a report and summary of matters associated with the application and the consultation with the Board not less than seven days prior to the hearing. Notice of the application and the public hearing must be published in: (a) the National Gazette; (b) a national newspaper; and (c) a newspaper circulated in the province in which the subject of the application is situated. After the Board has made a recommendation in respect of an application, NEC decides whether the decision of the Board should be confirmed. If there is an appeal, NEC decides whether the appeal should be approved or resubmitted.
The granting of an interim permit does not entitle the holder to a final water-use permit. On expiry of the period and conditions specified in the interim water-use permit, the holder may apply for a final water-use permit which will not exceed 25 years. The conditions for granting a water-use permit include the approval of an environmental plan under the EPA.