Media release

ORC notifies Water Permits plan change for submissions

Wednesday 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

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 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, at ORC offices in Dunedin, Alexandra or Queenstown, or in local libraries.