Media release

Media release: Effluent consenting to safeguard waterways on the horizon

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Otago farmers are being reminded consent applications must be in by early-June for some farmers regarding future animal effluent storage and discharge of animal effluent to land.

ORC’s Acting Manager Consents Alexandra King says last year’s effluent rule changes offer greater protections to keeping Otago’s waterways healthy.

“Ultimately, these protections are to safeguard the future of waterways, which directly support various natural eco-systems, but including farmland,” she says.

The new provisions introduced last year include setting minimum standards for animal effluent storage and its application to land, and for the establishment of small in-stream sediment traps.


Dairy  herd in paddock


She says farmers need to start thinking about the volume of effluent storage they have on their farm, and when they need to potentially install new storage facilities or have the resource consents in place to do so. 

It is not only dairy farms covered by the rules but other farm types where liquid animal effluent is collected may also need consent, and people are recommended to check in with the ORC’s Consents Team.


Deer in paddock


“We’re encouraging farmers to think about these things now and about which system works best for their farm by talking to ORC staff, a trusted farm advisor or their neighbours,” she says.

The water plan rules were introduced through ‘Plan Change 8’ last year, which at the time included working closely with industry groups and stakeholders, Ms King says.

She says the first series of consent applications need to be in by 4 June 2023, which may seem like a few months away yet, but it would be best for farmers to get onto these applications now.

She says ORC staff are here to help farmers and have plenty of resources available.


Background to rule changes

In June last year ORC Councillors ratified changes to the operative Regional Plan: Water for Otago, which allowed some key parts of proposed ‘Plan change 8’, which related to rural discharges, to become operative - which started from 4 June last year.


Intensive winter grazing consenting also on horizon

The timeframe for farmers to apply for their separate, future intensive winter grazing consents (IWG), is also more than three months away, but Ms King is also encouraging them to act now and apply.

Farmers are encouraged to try and meet the permitted activity criteria if they can, otherwise consent will be needed. These rules apply to all stock types and not just dairy cows.

The IWG consents applied for can be for up to the next three to five years

She says to ensure consents are in place by 1 May, farmers should consider beginning the application process now – which to date has been averaging five working days to get completed.

New water rules

ORC Catchment Advisors can be contacted on 0800 474 082

Advice can be sought from

The effluent rules were introduced by Council and the intensive winter grazing rules were introduced by Government as part of its wider Essential Freshwater package, with ORC responsible for implementing them.