Media release

ORC moves forward with proposal to extend water plan rule timeframes

Wednesday 25 September 2019

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) resolved today to notify a plan change that proposes to postpone the date when certain water quality rules come into effect, from 1 April 2020 to 1 April 2026. This plan change will lay the ground for another in 2020, to strengthen the Plan’s existing policy framework, and introduce some good management practices.

The plan change (6AA) proposes to delay ambiguous rules pertaining to discharge contaminant concentration, nitrogen leaching and Overseer that were due to take effect next year.

Acting Manager Policy and Planning Anita Dawe said the plan change was an important step in the long-term path to improving Otago’s water quality.

“The rules that were due to come into effect would not have had the intended outcomes for the environment or for the farming community in the long term. This plan change lets us take a step back and ensure we move forward with rules which are robust and enforceable, and align better with the national direction being proposed by central government.”

Plan Change 6AA consultation occurred with the Minister for the Environment, Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries, local territorial authorities, and Otago Rūnanga.

By 2026, the full review of the Water Plan is expected to be completed, and a new plan in place.

The 6AA plan change will be notified on 5 October, with submissions closing on 4 November. The proposed amendments will take immediate legal effect upon notification, because they relate to water.

A second plan change, to be notified around March next year, will establish strong, clear and enforceable rules. ORC will be consulting with the rural community and industry groups about this change later this year.

This second plan change will not be notified until after the final details of the government’s freshwater package are known.