Plan Change 7 (Water Permits) to the Regional Plan: Water

The Environment Court released its interim decision on the Water Permits Plan Change (PC7) on 22 October 2021 and on 17 November 2021 the Environment Court released its final decision on PC7. The Court’s decisions were not appealed and Plan Change 7 was made operative on 5 March 2022.

ORC has now amended Plan Change 7 as directed by the Environment Court and the Plan change can be read here (Clean version) or in a tracked changes version here.

The Environment Court Decisions can be viewed here.

Read the public notice here.

ORC acknowledges the input of the many submitters at the Plan Change 7 court proceedings, for sharing their experiences and knowledge. Over the coming weeks, staff will assess the implications of the Court decision on resource consent applications that are currently being processed, and on future applications. We will communicate any impacts from the Plan Change 7 decision with consent applicants.

In the meantime, our consents staff are available for assistance if required, by calling 0800 474 082, or emailing



Otago Regional Council (ORC) proposed a plan change to the Regional Plan: Water for Otago to add an objective, policies and rules that manage the replacement of expiring deemed permits and water permits. The plan change is the first step in the transition from the Regional Plan: Water for Otago to a new “fit for purpose” Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7) seeks to strengthen the plan’s existing policy framework, in advance of undertaking a comprehensive review of the Regional Plan: Water. The full review of the plan and development of the LWRP is programmed to be completed and notified by 31 December 2023.


Notification and submissions

We notified the Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7) in March 2020, but during the submission period, the plan change was “called in” by the Minister for the Environment. The EPA re-notified the plan change by issuing a Notice of Direction and submissions closed on 17 August 2020.

All submissions received by ORC were passed on to the EPA to be included in their notification and submission process.

On 17 September 2020, the EPA released a summary of submissions and a call-out for further submissions on this plan change.

Read the summary of submissions and further submissions here.



Between March 2021 and June 2021 the Environment Court held a hearing into the provisions of Plan Change 7 and matters raised in submissions and further submissions. Decisions on the Plan Change were released in October and November 2021. For information about Environment Court hearings process and decisions on this plan change, please click here.


View and download documents


Questions and answers

These plan changes are considered to be a “quick fix” to deal with deficiencies in the current water plan, so ORC requested the call in to speed up the process and to allow staff to focus on the development of the bigger picture – a revised Regional Policy Statement and a new Land and Water Regional Plan.

The proposed plan change provisions will affect any resource consent application for an existing surface water and hydraulically connected groundwater* take as well as any resource consent application for a new surface water or groundwater take.

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

If you have a resource consent to take water that was issued under the Resource Management Act, check your expiry date. If yours is set to expire and you want to continue taking water, 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

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). Now that ORC and EPA submissions plan change have been considered and the decisions of the Environment Court on the plan change are beyond challenge, the council will proceed to make the plan change as amended by the Environment Court operative at the start of 2022. This 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 by ORC then 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 was notified by ORC will be assessed under the new plan change’s objectives, policies and rules as well as the existing water plan provisions.

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 water 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. If you do not have at least five years of water take records for the period up to 30 June 2021, you can still apply for a consent. You can so this using any pre-30 June 2020 water take data that you do have, in combination with other relevant methods and data that may assist in representing your historical use.

Water data requests can be made by emailing You will need to provide ORC with a list of relevant resource consent numbers.

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