Media release

New national regulations to protect and restore waterways now in force

Friday 4 September 2020

The intent of the new framework is to stop degradation of our waterways now and achieve improvement where water quality is degraded.

Otago Regional Council Chair Andrew Noone said the council welcomed the Action for Healthy Waterways regulatory reform package.

“This package from the government has been a long time in the works, and there is a lot of great intent around restoring and protecting the health of New Zealand waterways.

“The challenge for ORC and the community now will be in how we implement the new requirements, to ensure they have the desired environmental benefits. We’re looking closely at what’s required of us and our region’s farmers, and prioritising the most urgent work.”

The Action for Healthy Waterways package includes a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, new stock exclusion regulations under section 360 of the Resource Management Act, and an amendment to the Resource Management (Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes) Regulations 2010.

ORC is required to give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management by setting objectives, policies and rules in our regional plans. The National Environmental Standards are effectively nationwide rules, which apply across the country regardless of regional plans.

The new regulations have effect from 3 September. Some parts need to be addressed immediately, and others have a period of time built in for people to comply.

The regulations of the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater that have come into force cover the following topics:

  • Intensive farming
  • Protection of wetlands
  • Excluding stock in new pastoral systems from waterways
  • Feedlots
  • River reclamation
  • Fish passage

More information about the new rules is available online at, or you can call 0800 474 082 or email

ORC General Manager Regulatory Richard Saunders said staff were keen to assist farmers to understand and implement the changes.

“We know there are a lot of changes to take in and understand, and we’re here to help. We’ll be taking an ‘education-first’ approach to helping people implement the changes, and we’re working proactively with the community to ensure everyone understands the new requirements.”

Water quality in Otago is generally very good, and people in the region have told ORC they value healthy waterways for recreation, drinking water, mahinga kai, ecological health and to support industries such as farming and tourism.

You can contact ORC and speak to a staff member directly if you have questions about specific rules or whether you will require a resource consent.