Media release

ORC flights to check land-use practices begin next week

Friday 3 July 2020

Beginning next week, the Otago Regional Council (ORC) will undertake its annual flights over the region to monitor for sediment disturbance and discharges to water from farming, forestry and other land-use activities.

ORC currently has rules in place for sediment loss and stock access to waterways. ORC General Manager Regulatory Richard Saunders said ensuring good practice for activities such as winter grazing is essential to protect the environment.

Changes to both regional rules and national environmental standards are expected soon. These changes are designed to further protect waterways from sediment and nutrient runoff.

 “Until the new rules are in place, we strongly encourage good grazing practice over the winter months, both to protect waterways, and to prevent the need for enforcement,” Mr Saunders said.

Rural land managers are urged to use good practice approaches to grazing stock over the winter, including regular back fencing, grazing from top to bottom, and leaving a buffer zone between stock and waterways.

These measures reduce the likelihood of soil, nitrogen, phosphorus and E.coli running off paddocks into streams, rivers, lakes or wetlands, helping to protect aquatic life and ensure our waterways are safe for swimming and collecting mahinga kai.

ORC teams will follow up on non-compliance identified from the air, with responses ranging from education and advice, through to enforcement notices and prosecution.

If you’d like advice about winter grazing, contact our Rural Liaison Team on 0800 474 082 or email

Anyone who sees pollution of a waterway is encouraged to call our 24/7 pollution hotline on 0800 800 033.