Transitions from 'Deemed Permit' to RMA consent

Otago has the gold miners of old to thank for many of its irrigation schemes. Landowners use water from races, dams, creeks, and channels derived from the water races dug by the miners.  

Water Users' Guide (Deemed Permits)

If you use water on your land or in your business, you’ll need to read our Water Users' Handbook. All water permits granted in the Otago region under the old mining laws will expire in 2021 so if you want to keep using water, you’ll need to apply to ORC for a new water permit (a type of resource consent) before your old one expires.

This page provides background and process information to help you update your water permit. As well as our downloadable handbook, we’ve provided summaries and presentations from the Deemed Permit forum held in Alexandra on 29 March 2017 - these will give you relevant background information to get you started. The handbook will help guide you through the process of applying and show you where you can get help.

Deemed Permits Survey

We want to provide information that best meets your needs as your Deemed Permit expires and you look to replace it. We've got a small survey here that once completed by you will help ensure the information we provide you in the future is helpful and relevant. It should take less than four minutes of your time to complete and we encourage you to do so.

Deemed Permits Forum Survey

Important Documents

On this page:

Introductory Video



Deemed Permit Forum presentations

The Otago Regional Council held a forum in Alexandra on 29th March to provide relevant background information to water users in the area. Follow the links below to see summaries, full presentations and contact details for each of the speakers.


Water plan changes

This presentation covers the ORC’s obligation to regulate water allocation, and deals with some of the myths around the process. The desired outcome is for a more flexible and sustainable water allocation process; a process that allows for more precise calculations on water usage, and allows for a co-operative approach to water use among the users themselves.

Download presentation slides: Water Plan Changes (467 KB)

Renewing water permits – Bruce Monaghan

Bruce Monaghan is working through a staged process across the region, getting people to work towards the renewal of their water permits sooner rather than later. He’s been working with rural professionals as well, as they will be involved in this process and need up to date and accurate information. He strongly recommends working in a group, and can help with this.

Download presentation slides: Renewing permits (124 KB)

Bruce Monaghan
Central Otago Liaison Specialist
027 480 7944

Assessing environmental impacts - Bruce Monaghan

When completing your water consent application there is a lot of detailed information required, and a lot of consultation needs to be included in the process. ORC has much of this information collated and available on their website, and Bruce Monaghan, as your Community Liaison specialist, is happy to facilitate the set up and operation of water management groups, or to answer individual enquiries.

Download presentation slides: Assessing Environmental Effects (213 KB)

Bruce Monaghan
Central Otago Liaison Specialist 
027 480 7944

Fish and Flows Portal

The Otago Regional Council has pulled valuable science data together in one place: their Fish and Flows Portal. This gives the details you will need for your application, available by location.

Download presentation slides: Fish and Flows web portal (91 KB)

Consent considerations

What are the pros and cons of a group approach to water management rather than an individual? This presentation works through a number of different options for group management and outlines the benefits.

Download presentation slides: Consent Considerations (79 KB)

Water Plan provisions and water groups

This presentation outlines the nuts and bolts of group water management, as well as the legal process for updating the legal status around water races. It also gives details of primary, supplementary and paper water allocations.

Download presentation slides: Water Plan Provisions (207 KB)

Affected parties - Kai Tahu ki Otago Ltd

It’s a requirement to consult local iwi when making an application under the Resource Management Act. Kai Tahu ki Otago provides the interface between applicants and local Kai Tahu runaka, advocating for healthy waterways throughout their role.

Download presentation slides: KTKO Ltd (1.2 MB)

Tim Vial
Principal Planner for Kai Tahu ki Otago Ltd
027 424 6372

Affected parties - Department of Conservation

When applying for water consents, The Department of Conservation is one of the key parties you need to consult. They have a responsibility to preserve indigenous freshwater fish habitats and to advocate for the conservation of natural resources.

Download presentation slides: Department of Conservation (581 KB)

Affected parties - Otago Fish and Game Council

Otago’s Fish and Game Council has a particular interest in smaller waterways in the area, as these are common trout spawning and rearing areas, and also there is limited information available for these areas. They can provide advice on values, help with site inspections, and are happy to work with Water management groups in preparing consent applications.

Download presentation slides: Fish and Game Otago (795 KB)

Niall Watson
Chief Executive of Otago Fish and Game Council
03 477 9076


Deemed Permit Forum Questions and Answers

Here are the questions and answers from the day:

Questions and Answers (131 KB).

Sowburn Case Study


Where do I start?

Click here to download the full water users handbook

                   Water users handbook

The handbook is split into three sections, shown below:

Section 1

Gives a simple overview of the recent changes to water management policy in the Otago region, what you need to do in response to this and by when.

Section 2

Goes on to explain the different steps in the consent application process.

Section 3

Give you some pointers on how to get underway with your new consent application, and where to get application forms and any help you need.


Section 1

Your water permit is about to expire: what you need to do

Otago has the gold miners of old to thank for many of its irrigation schemes. Landowners use water from races, dams, creeks, and channels derived from the water races dug by the miners.

Today, many irrigators still take water using permits authorised under the original mining laws over a hundred years ago. These permits all expire in 2021.

Below are the basic steps of the process:

Your water permit is about to expire: what you need to do

Download the Water Users' Handbook


Section 2

A beginners guide - turning a permit into a resource consent:

Being part of a water management group keeps control in farmers’ hands. In tough times it’s better to have an elected group of your peers making the hard decisions than someone isolated from the problem.

The group encourages neighbours to work together to ensure everyone gets the best deal. There are no priorities based on the size of operation or position on the river. Everyone is treated equally.

Below are the key steps to gaining a resource consent:

A beginners guide - turning a permit into a resource consent

Download the Water Users' Handbook


Section 3

Get started - forms and contact information:

Putting together a consent application takes time. Start now to ensure you’re sorted by 2021. You’ll find a lot information in the resource consents section of our website.

To apply for a resource consent to take and use surface water (known as a water permit under the RMA) you must complete two basic forms:

You can collect paper copies of these forms and an associated guide from our offices, have them posted to you, or download them above.

You may be required to complete additional forms for other aspects of your activity. Please check with us first, but these may include:

  • if your take involves using water from a water race. There is a two part process to continue legally accessing the race from which you water is taken. Apply using Form 4B for a ‘Section 417 Certificate’ which must then be registered, similar to an easement, against the title of all lands involved;
  • if your take is from a groundwater aquifer that is hydraulically connected to a nearby waterway (Form 5);
  • if you need to install a large water intake structure in a waterway (Form 10C);
  • if you have a permit that is no longer being used and you wish to surrender it (Form 20); or
  • if you want to transfer the ownership/location of whole or part of your take to someone/somewhere else (Forms 15 and 16).


Pre-application reminder

Back to top
Online Maps & Data: