If you are constructing a new dam then you may need a resource consent under our Regional Plan for the damming of the water.

This is because the damming of water is not limited to water in rivers or catchment runoff and also includes the damming of water in reservoirs. 

Under the operative Regional Plan: Water for Otago where the permitted activity rules cannot be met for this activity, a water permit is required for this damming.

If you do not meet the permitted criteria in Rule (shown below) the damming of water is therefore a discretionary activity under Rule and you will need RMA consent. You can use Form 2 to apply for this consent. You must also fill in Form 1. We are happy to help with pre-application advice and encourage you to contact us. 

Rule (Permitted Activities)

12.3.2 Permitted activities: No resource consent required 

Unless prohibited by Rules to, the damming or diversion of water is a permitted activity, providing: 

  1. The size of the catchment upstream of the dam, weir or diversion is no more than 50 hectares in area; and 
  2. In the case of damming, the water immediately upstream of the dam is no more than 3 metres deep, and the volume of water stored by the dam is no more than 20,000 cubic metres; and 
  3. In the case of diversion, the water is conveyed from one part of any lake or river, or its tributary, to another part of the same lake, river or tributary; and 
  4. No lawful take of water is adversely affected as a result of the damming or diversion; and 
  5. Any damming or diversion within a Regionally Significant Wetland was lawfully established prior to 2 July 2011; and 
  6. There is no change to the water level range or hydrological function of any Regionally Significant Wetland; and 
  7. There is no damage to fauna, or New Zealand native flora, in or on any Regionally Significant Wetland; and 
  8. The damming or diversion does not cause flooding of any other person’s property, erosion, land instability, sedimentation or property damage; and 
  9. The damming or diversion is not within the Waitaki catchment. 

Dam Building Consents

While Building Consents and Certificates of Compliance (CCC) are to be received by Environment Canterbury, the Otago Regional Council must receive Certificates of Acceptance (COA) for the Otago Region. These will be processed or the co-ordination of the processing managed by the Otago Regional Council. You will be made aware of who is processing your COA once it has been received. 


Want to know more?

For more information phone our customer services staff on freephone 0800 474 082 or email consent.enquiries@orc.govt.nz.

Find out more information on dams and the Building Act from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

NZSOLD is a technical group of Engineering New Zealand. This site has information on dam safety and construction, including the proceedings of conferences at which papers on dam safety and background to the Building Act dam safety legislation have been presented.   Find out more information on the NZ Society on Large Dams.

Find out historic information on some Otago dams from the Heritage New Zealand.

Certain types of applications must be sent to Fire Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) for their review (Section 46 of the Act). The BCA will receive a memo from FENZ (Section 47) and will take this into consideration in any application process. Find out more information at https://fireandemergency.nz/contact-us/ 


Forms, plans & guidance notes for dams

Form 1 Application for Resource Consent PDF

June 2024

PDF | 246 KB

Form 1: Application for resource consent must be completed for most consent applications made to us (you can use this PDF version of the Word version). If multiple consents are required for an activity, Form 1 only needs be completed once. You do not need to fill in Form 1 if you are applying for an intensive winter grazing consent.

Form 2 - Application to dam water

December 2021

PDF | 799 KB

Use this form for activities that seek to impound water behind a structure within a watercourse.

Schedule 12: Water Take, Use and Management

PDF | 839 KB

Regional Plan: Water for Otago

Guidance note - Consents for offline dams and reservoirs

1 June 2021

PDF | 180 KB

Practice Note - Environmental effects considerations for different damming/diversion types

March 2022

PDF | 327 KB

Practice Note - Environmental Effect Assessment Requirements for Off-line and Instream Damming and Diversions

PDF | 327 KB

Guidance when determining the level of detail required to be lodged with applications for off-line and instream damming and diversions. (Damming matrix table)

Practice note - Information to be lodged for retakes, off-line damming and diversions

November 2022

PDF | 309 KB

The document relates to the following activities where a 6-year or less consent duration is sought: Retakes of water from water races and off-line reservoirs/dams; Off-line (out of stream) damming; Diversion of water in a river to facilitate a water take .

Page last updated 12 July 2024.