Plan Change 6A Archive
Proposed Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) seeks to maintain or improve water quality, through control of contaminants discharging from rural land to water. Council notified proposed Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) on 31 March 2012 and released its decisions on 20 April 2013.
The rules of the proposed plan change had legal effect from 31 March 2012.
After resolution of appeals, Plan Change 6A was made operative on 1 May 2014 and was incorporated within the Regional Plan: Water For Otago.
Material on this page is for information purposes only and has been superseded by material on Plan Change 6A implementation page.
Next steps in the process
The period for lodging a notice of appeal to the Environment Court closed at 5pm on Tuesday 4 June 2013. Parties identified under section 274 of the Resource Management Act may notify the Environment Court if they wish to be party to an appeal. For information on the appeal process please refer to the Ministry of the Environment website.
The table below lists the appeals received by the Environment Court and a link to a copy of each appeal:
View and download documents
Science reports and background information
ORC reports to Committee or Council
2007/261: Surface water quality and future waterway protection (400 KB)
2008/328: Non-point source discharges in rural areas and the Regional Plan: Water (150 KB)
2009/593: New approach to non-point source pollution (362 KB)
2010/0977: Non-point source contaminants: management strategy (299 KB)
2011/0847: Manuherikia catchment water quality study (5 MB)
2011/1248: Consultation draft of proposed Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) to the Regional Plan: Water for Otago (173 KB)
2012/0622: Notification of proposed Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) to the Regional Plan:Water for Otago (129 KB)
2012/0726: FertResearch nutrient management indicators (528 KB)
2013/0958: Waianakarua River water quality (443 KB)
ORC technical water quality reports
Effects of land use on water quality in the Pomahaka catchment, 2011 (2 MB)
Kakanui River water quality report, 2013 (3 MB)
Otago lakes trophic status: Lake Hayes, Lake Johnson, Lake Onslow, Lake Wakatipu, Lake Wanaka, 2009 (3 MB)
State of the Environment report Surface water quality in Otago, 2007 (1 MB)
State of the Environment report Surface water quality in Otago, 2012 (1 MB)
Water quality and ecological health of rivers in the Tokomairiro catchment, August 2011 - April 2012 (632 KB)
Surface water quality study: The Water of Leith & Lindsay Creek; Kaikorai Stream; Waitati River and Careys Creek, 2008 (734 KB)
The effect of irrigation runoff on water quality, May 2006 (2 MB)
Water quality and ecological health for the rivers in the Catlins area, 2011 (785 MB)
Water quality and ecosystem health in the Manuherikia catchment, 2011 (1 MB)
Water equality and ecosystem health in the Upper Taieri (2012) (2 MB)
Water quality of the Lindis and Cardrona Rivers, May 2006 (1 MB)
ORC documents and presentations
ORC, Rural Water Quality Strategy 2011 (301 KB)
ORC resource science unit, technical report advising Proposed Plan Change 6A ‘Officers' report of decisions requested’ – Schedule 15, July 2012 (561 KB)
ORC resource science unit, technical report advising proposed Plan Change 6A ‘Officers' Report of decisions requested’ – Schedule 16, July 2012 (600 KB)
ORC resource science unit, technical report advising Proposed Plan Change 6A ‘Officers' report of decisions requested’ - assessment of nitrogen-sensitive zone loading limits: Modelling of Kakanui-Kauru, Ettrick, and Lower Taieri nitrogen accumulation sensitivity, August 2012 (2 MB)
ORC resource science unit, rationale for Schedule 15 standards and Schedule 16 limits, March 2013 (458 KB)
ORC, proposed water quality rules and standards (presentation to Good Water Good Farming – rural water quality policy catchment consultation meetings) Dunedin, 2011 (4 MB)
ORC, Water Quality Forum 2010 proceedings: Good Water, Good Farming, 2011 (3 MB)
ORC, presentation at the 2011 Water Quality forums, ‘SoE & measuring the effects of farm practices on water quality’ (2 MB)
McDowell, R.W., Monaghan, R.M., Muirhead, R.W. (2011). Water quality of the Pomahaka River catchment: Scope for improvement (893 KB)
McDowell, R.W., Snelder, T., Littlejohn., R, Hickey, M., Cox, N., Booker, D.J. (2011). State and potential management to improve water quality in an agricultural catchment relative to a natural baseline. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 144, 188-200. (744 KB)
Council decisions (20 April 2013) on proposed Plan Change 6A
The Hearing Committee presented their recommendations in the report Recommendations of the Hearing Committee to Council, 20 March 2013. Council made its decisions on 27 March 2013, and notified these decisions on Saturday 20 April 2013.
Any person who has made a submission has the right to appeal the council's decisions to the Environment Court (under clause 14 of the First Schedule of the RMA). Appeals close at 5pm on Tuesday 4 June 2013. Any such appeal must be in the prescribed form. A copy of the notice of appeal must be sent to the Otago Regional Council and to every person who made a submission on the appealed provision or matter.
(Submitter address list for service)
View the Council decisions on Proposed Plan Change 6A (water Quality) by downloading the documents below. Copies are also available for viewing from:
Otago Regional Council offices at:
- 70 Stafford Street, Dunedin
- William Fraser Building, Dunorling Street, Alexandra
- The Station, First Floor, cnr Shotover and Camp Streets, Queenstown
- Hasborough Place, Balclutha
All public libraries and city and district council offices throughout the Otago Region
To request a hard copy of Proposed Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) please contact the ORC policy team:
Phone: 03 474 0827 or 0800 474 082
Fax: 03 479 0015
Navigation guide (Use this to help navigate between the notified plan change, the decisions version of the plan change, and the Decision of Council Report)
Decision of Council on PC6A Water Quality - Full report
Appendix 1: Proposed Plan Change 6A incorporating Council's decision for release 20 April 2013
[Clean version of Appendix 1 - no underlining or strikethrough]
Index map H-series
Index map J-series
Appendix 2: Flowcharts
Appendix 3: Implementation Timeline
The proposed plan change as notified on 31 March 2012
Council notified the proposed plan change on Saturday, 31 March 2012.
View this plan change by downloading the following documents:
Download proposed plan change 6A (1 MB)
Download proposed plan change 6A - Map I Series (1 MB)
Download proposed plan change 6A - Map J Series (2 MB)
View the public notice notifying the proposed plan change (137 KB)
Download Section 32 report for proposed plan change 6A (203 KB)
Submissions received and summary of decisions requested (22 August 2012)
Council notified the proposed plan change on Saturday, 31 March 2012 and submissions closed at 5pm on Wednesday 2 May 2012. Council released the summary of decisions requested on the plan change and called for further submissions on Saturday 2 June 2012. Further submissions closed at 5pm on Monday 18 June 2012.
The hearing of submissions was held from 10 September 2012 to 25 October 2012 at Dunedin, Balclutha, Wanaka, Alexandra, and Oamaru.
Download the public notice notifiying the summary of decisions requested (125 KB)
Download the Summary of Decisions Requested (By Provision) (1 MB)
Download the Summary of Decisions Requested (By Submitter) (2 MB)
Download the Summary of Decisions Requested (including further submissions) - Part 1 (2 MB)
Download the Summary of Decisions Requested (including further submissions) - Part 2 (3 MB)
View the original submissions below:
Index to submissions by submitter name and number
Officers report on decisions requested (22 August 2012)
An officers report evaluating decisions requested by submitters and further submitters, and making recommendations to the Hearing Committee, is available below.
Download the officer’s report on decisions requested (537 KB)
Download Appendix 1 of the officer’s report on decisions requested (2 MB)
Officers report - recommended maps
Section 1: I Series Maps
Series I - Index Map (1 MB)
Map I-1 – Kakanui-Kauru Aquifer (1 MB)
Map I-2 – Shag Alluvium Aquifer (2 MB)
Map I-3 – Wakatipu Basin Aquifer (2 MB)
Map I-4 – Ettrick and Roxburgh Aquifers (2 MB)
Map I-5 – Wakatipu Aquifer and Lakes Area (497 KB)
Map I-6 – Lakes Area (1 MB)
Section 2: J Series Maps
Series J - Index Map (2 MB)
Map J-1 (1 MB)
Map J-2 (1 MB)
Map J-3 (2 MB)
Map J-4 (2 MB)
Map J-5 (1 MB)
Map J-6 (1 MB)
Map J-7 (2 MB)
Map J-8 (2 MB)
Map J-9 (2 MB)
Map J-10 (2 MB)
Map J-11 (1 MB)
Map J-12 (1 MB)
Officers report - technical reports
Download Technical Report on Schedule 15 (152 KB)
Download Technical Report on Schedule 16 (165 KB)
Download Technical Report on Nitrogen Sensitive Zones (part 1) (194 KB)
Download Technical Report on Nitrogen Sensitive Zones (part 2) (3 MB)
Download Technical Report on Nitrogen Sensitive Zones (part 3) (1 MB)
Download Technical Report on Nitrogen Sensitive Zones (part 4) (3 MB)
Frequently asked questions (about Proposed Plan Change 6A)
- When were council decisions released?
Council decisions were publicly notified on Saturday 20 April 2013.
- What is Proposed Plan Change 6A trying to achieve?
It aims to maintain good water quality and improve water quality where degraded, whilst meeting the requirements of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.
- What is the plan change’s focus?
It focuses on non-point source discharges to water in rural areas i.e. contaminants coming out of drains, and from runoff and leaching.
- Will this plan change directly affect me?
Yes, if you undertake land-based activities (e.g. agriculture, forestry, subdivision) which may result in contaminants discharging into water, or if you discharge water back into water (e.g. from a dam or irrigation scheme).
- What are the key points from Plan Change 6A?
The targets for good quality water in Otago are proposed in Schedule 15. These ensure that water will be of suitable quality for a variety of purposes, such as contact recreation, fishing, stock drinking water, and mahika kai.
Prohibit objectionable discharges which have never been granted consent.
Permit discharges that meet specified limits for nitrogen, phosphorus, E.coli (Schedule 16), and sediment.
Provide clear consent options for discharges that do not meet the contaminant discharge limits.
Amend provisions on the disturbance of river and lake beds, and Regionally Significant Wetlands to:
- Discourage the use of rivers as regular stock crossings.
- Make it easier to construct crossings over water bodies.
- Reduce the risk of animal waste getting into water from crossings.
- When will these new rules affect me?
The proposed rules have legal effect from 31 March 2012. From that date, two sets of rules must be considered – those in the proposed plan change and those in the operative Water Plan.
New activities need to comply with the rules in both the operative Regional Plan: Water, and the rules in PC6A.
- Will there be a transition time?
Some land owners or managers may need time to modify their land use and water management practices to be able to comply with the proposed discharge limits.
There is an eight-year transition (to 2020) to meet the discharge limits and the nitrogen loading limit.
No transition time is provided for the prohibited discharge rules. They operate as discretionary rules until the plan change becomes operative, once any appeals are resolved.
ORC will continue to enforce the operative Water Plan, and is also able to take compliance action against any person who contravenes a proposed rule, where that rule applies.
Contact the ORC land resources manager for more information about ensuring your farm is compliant.
- What is the difference between Schedule 15 and Schedule 16?
Schedule 15 describes the targets for good quality water in Otago waterways, as required by the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. These are an important measure of the health of our waterways for State of the Environment monitoring and reporting on water quality in Otago generally.
Schedule 16 sets limits for contaminants being discharged into waterbodies. The proposed water quality rules relate to Schedule 16 and to sediment. Schedule 16 limits are important measurements for off-farm discharges.
- What contaminants will have a discharge limit?
Limits are proposed for sediment, E-coli, phosphorus (DRP), and nitrogen [nitrite/nitrate nitrogen (NNN) and ammoniacal nitrogen (NH4) for surface water; nitrogen loading for groundwater].
- What are discharge limits?
Discharge limits specify a maximum amount of contaminant that can be discharged into water. For surface water, they are measured as concentrations; for groundwater, nitrogen is calculated as an annual loading. The nitrogen load is calculated as the amount of nitrogen that leaches below the plant root zone using OVERSEER 6.0. For sediment, the limit is described in words rather than numbers.
Stricter surface water limits apply to catchments that are more vulnerable to the effects of contaminants. For groundwater, more stringent loads are proposed to protect sensitive groundwater and the water in Lakes Wakatipu, Wanaka and Hawea.
- What are discharge limits based on?
The proposed limits are based on the State of the Environment monitoring results compiled by ORC for surface and ground water in Otago, recognised water quality guidelines (e.g. ANZECC and others) and discharge sampling results.
- What land use activities will be most affected by the proposed discharge limits?
The effect of the proposed discharge limits on land use activities will depend on many factors, including the type of activity, what land management practices you are using, stocking rates, climate, geology, soil type, slope, and vegetation.
There is a risk of discharges breaching the limits and contaminating water from:
Where there is a high number of stock in a small area, there is likely to be a high concentration of contaminants discharged.
Contaminants in wet soils are mobile, which creates a high risk of the contaminants making their way to waterways and into groundwater.
Activities such as harvesting forests, undertaking subdivision earthworks, ploughing soil, or using sacrificial or fallow paddocks have a high risk of sediment discharge to water.
- How do I know if the discharges from my land are within the limits?
To find out if your discharge meets the limits, take a sample of the discharge and test for the contaminants specified above. Then, review your land management practices and make any changes needed to reduce the contaminants in your discharge. Following that, test the discharge again, to see how effective your actions have been. You may have to make more than one change to clean up the discharge.
- Where and when should I sample?
The limits apply to all discharges where they are about to enter water in a river, lake or wetland, or in an open drain or water race that flows into a river, lake, or wetland.
Schedule 16 limits only apply when rivers are at or below median flow. Local flow conditions are available on the ORC water info website.
- What should I sample and how?
To check your contaminants are within discharge limits take a sample from seepages, tile drains, by-wash and swales immediately before it enters a river, lake or wetland, or an open drain or water race that flows into a river, lake, or wetland.
To have certainty about whether the limits are being met on your property, take samples from several different locations (in particular, areas where higher risk land use activities are being undertaken) at different times of the year.
A information sheet on sampling will be available soon.
- What happens if I find my discharges do not meet the limits?
Look again at your land management practices. You may have to make several changes to your operations to clean up the discharge. To assist this, you can apply for a resource consent for extra time to complete work required to ensure your property meets the discharge limits.
ORC compliance staff will follow up on breaches of prohibited activities.
- Need some more guidance?
To discuss what you need to do on your farm to comply with these rules phone ORC land resources staff on 0800 474 082.
For further policy information on this proposed plan change call ORC policy 0800 474 082.