ORC notifies Water Permits plan change for submissions

Media Release - 18 March 2020

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) notified the plan change for submissions today, following a Council vote last week.

The Water Permits plan change provides an interim measure to give those who take freshwater from Otago waterways short-term permits based on how much water they are currently using.

These permits will replace expiring deemed permits (historical water rights that expire in 2021) and any other water permits due to expire while ORC develops a new Land and Water Regional Plan.

ORC Chair Marian Hobbs said the plan change would provide surety for those with expiring permits.

“Under the Water Permits plan change, there is a straightforward and cost-effective mechanism to ensure continuity for deemed permit holders, who face the expiry of their permits next year. This is a means to ensure those water users are not left without any ability to take water from October 2021.

“This plan change is a necessary interim step while we work with communities towards our new Land and Water Regional Plan.”

All resource consent applications for taking or using water will be considered against the Water Permits plan change and the existing Regional Plan: Water from now until the new Land and Water Regional Plan, scheduled for notification in December 2023, is in place.

ORC received community input into the proposed Water Permits plan change online before Christmas and at a public forum in early January this year, and people now have another opportunity to be formally involved by making a submission anytime up to 5pm on 17 April 2020.

The public is welcome to make a submission (as an individual or a group) in support or opposition of the whole or parts of the proposal. For more information about how to make a submission, visit www.orc.govt.nz/submission.

Throughout the development of the plan change, ORC has also consulted with iwi, district councils and other key stakeholders as required under the Resource Management Act 1991.

This plan change actions one of the recommendations made by Minister for the Environment David Parker following an investigation that found the Otago region does not have a fit-for-purpose planning framework in place.

The new Land and Water Regional Plan will include contaminant discharge and water allocation limits for each freshwater management unit (areas by which water will be managed – find out more at www.orc.govt.nz/fmus) to ensure the health of waterways is maintained or enhanced, and not adversely impacted by other activities.

The proposed plan change can be viewed online at www.orc.govt.nz/wppc, at ORC offices in Dunedin, Alexandra or Queenstown, or in local libraries.


Questions and answers

Any water permit, including resource consents for surface water and hydraulically connected groundwater* takes that expire before 31 December 2025, as well as deemed permits (historic mining privileges), which expire by law on 1 October 2021.

*Hydraulically connected groundwater is groundwater considered as surface water under Policy 6.4.1A of the Regional Plan: Water

If you want to continue taking water from a stream, river, lake, wetland or other freshwater body, you’ll need to apply to ORC for a water permit (a type of resource consent) before your old one expires.

Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), if you lodge your completed new water permit application at least six months prior to your current permit expiring, and it is accepted by ORC, you can continue to take water until a decision is made on your new application.

If you are a deemed permit holder and you want to continue taking water after 1 October 2021, you need to lodge your application and have it accepted as complete by ORC by 1 April 2021 at the latest. If you lodge an application after that, but before 30 June 2021, it is at the discretion of ORC to authorise continued use of water until a decision is made on your new application.

If you have not been granted a new water permit by 1 October 2021 or have not lodged an application and been authorised to continue to operate under your existing permit, you will have to stop taking water until a decision is made on your new application.

Before submitting your application, we recommend you check it carefully to ensure you have answered all the questions and included all required information. Incomplete applications will be returned to you with details about what is needed. This can cause delays, so make sure you submit it before the 1 April 2021 deadline. Your application must also be accompanied by a deposit so that we can start to process it. 

If you have any questions about how to put your application together, we recommend you visit www.orc.govt.nz/deemedpermits, call us on 0800 474 082 or seek help from a professional resource management advisor.

If you have a resource consent to take water that was issued under the Resource Management Act, check your expiry date – many of these were set to expire in 2021, too. If yours is set to expire by then and you want to continue taking water beyond 2021, you will need to apply for a new water permit.

If you wish to continue taking water while your application is being processed, your completed application must be lodged with ORC and accepted at least six months prior to the expiry date on your existing water permit.

For help, phone us on 0800 474 082 and ask to speak with our consents team, or email deemedpermits@orc.govt.nz.

Yes, you will also need to apply for consent for any activities related to your water permit.

Yes, the current Water Plan provisions still apply, along with the provisions in the proposed Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7). After submissions on the plan change have been considered and the hearings have taken place, the council will release an operative version of the Water Permits plan change, which will then be the only set of provisions to consider water permit applications.  

If you lodged your application for a water permit before the Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7) was notified, the ORC Consents Team will phone you to discuss the options. In general, both the existing provisions and the new provisions will apply until the proposed Water Permits plan change is made operative by Council.

Resource consent applications for taking or using water received after the plan change is notified will be assessed under the new plan change’s objectives, policies and rules and the existing water plan provisions.

Anyone can make submission on a proposed plan or plan change, either as an individual or a group. There is a specific form you need to fill in, and you need to include your contact details. You will need to say whether you support or oppose all or part of the plan change and why. Submissions are open from now until 17 April. Find out more at www.orc.govt.nz/submission

The key principles behind the plan change were:

  • The focus must remain on the bigger picture – the Water Plan review. The Water Permits Plan Change should be as concise as required to achieve a fit-for-purpose management regime.
  • Water allocation should be based on water use not paper allocation.
  • Consideration of potential impacts on existing water abstractors, and existing priorities in deemed permits.
  • Efficiency of time and cost for both Council applicants and other parties.
  • Opportunities for data gathering that will inform the Water Plan review should be pursued.

Yes. In the plan change, there is a rule for activities that do not have five years of data, or that do not meet the plan criteria for a short-term consent. Under the plan change your application will be a non-complying activity so you will need to apply for a resource consent.

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