The Otago Regional Council is developing a Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) to protect Otago’s precious waterways for future generations. 

The proposed new rules and regulations will give comprehensive direction for managing land and water resources in the region. Some rules and regulations will be region-wide, while others will apply to specific parts of Otago. 

Journey to notification

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to give feedback on the proposed new rules in our draft land and water plan. We received over 550 responses from members of the community wanting to have their voice heard on the draft plan.

So far, the main areas of feedback have been around:

  • changes around setbacks from waterbodies for various farming activities
  • limits on the number of cows per hectare as a measure of intensity
  • restrictions on the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used per hectare
  • minimum flows for the Manuherekia River
  • Feedback was analysed in November 2023, and presented to Council in December 2023

Over the period January 2024 to August 2024, we will complete statutory consultation with those who could be affected by the plan. This will include Iwi authorities as well as stakeholders such as city and district councils, central government, industry groups, and environmental groups.

After finishing the statutory consultation ORC will get the plan ready for public notification. One notified, everyone will be able to read the proposed plan, and make formal submissions on it should they choose to. More details on how to make a formal submission will be available before notifying the plan.

Revised land and water work programme through to notification

Originally scheduled to be notified by end of June, on 27 March this year Council requested that staff delay the planned notification until 31 October 2024. The final draft plan will come to a council meeting on 23 October, when Council will be asked to formally notify the Plan. This stage is a milestone 4 years in the making; a collaborative effort between Councillors, mana whenua, Council staff, and a lot of input from our community and stakeholders including 3 public consultation stages between Nov 2021 and Nov 2023 resulting in more than a thousand individual pieces of feedback - showing it really does take a community to make a plan for the future.​

Where we are in the process

1. Feedback on environmental actions (last year)

Feedback on draft plan (we are here!)

  • Feedback from statutory parties
  • Legal review of plan
  • Section 32 evaluation
  • Iwi partner consultation
  • Council briefing
  • Council approval
3. Plan notified/legal effect for some parts
4. Submissions invited
5. Public hearings
6. Hearings panel report
7. ORC decisions made
8. Appeals period
9. Plan replaces the old Water Plan for Otago

There is a programme of work to complete before the draft plan is presented to Council for a decision on notification before the end of October, which includes:

Talking to representatives from primary production. The forestry sector consultation started a little later than that with others, so we’re making time to hear from them. We’re also taking the time to hear from some of the other organisations who took part in the last round of consultation to clarify a few things.

Seeking a legal review of the plan.

Completing the supporting Section 32 Evaluation Report, which considers the positive and negative impacts of the Plan on the community, economy and environment. This report will allow Council to weigh the pros and cons before making its decision to notify the Plan.

Presenting a copy of the draft plan to our iwi partners for consultation.

In early October, staff will brief the Council on the whole plan.

On 23 October, Council will be asked to formally notify the Plan.

If approved by Council, this version of the Plan will be notified on 31 October and become the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan. As the rules in the LWRP relate to the management of water or soil (for soil conservation) they will have immediate legal effect upon notification of the Plan.

Once the plan is notified, everyone can make formal submissions on the proposed plan. We’ll have more detail about how and when to make a submission closer to this time.

What will the Plan mean for you?
We have some FAQs up on our website which might answer your questions, otherwise, you can email

The Plan's status

Proposed new rules in the Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) for Otago will give new, comprehensive direction for managing land and water resources in the region. The plan is required in New Zealand law, replacing an outdated Otago Regional Council planning framework that is no longer fit for purpose. The Government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater 2020 gives effect to new protection for our waterways.

Our planning now must prioritise Te Mana o te Wai, a national policy emphasising that the health of our waterways must come first, above other needs. This national directive applies to all waterways in New Zealand. Our Otago draft plan is one of the first in the country heading towards public notification and a subsequent submission and hearings process. Parts of the plan will have legal effect following notification of the plan.

The path to a plan

We began this journey in 2019 when the Minister for the Environment asked the Otago Regional Council to prepare a new Regional Policy Statement and Land and Water Plan. Previous planning rules and regulations were no longer deemed fit to provide protection for Otago’s waterways and surrounding environment.

Between 2020 and 2022 we engaged with our community around the visions and values people wanted for our waterways and the land affecting them in this new, more in-depth Plan. We also spoke with communities about actions that would help us reach positive environmental outcomes – these were that Otago's freshwater and land activities need to be:

  • Healthy for plants, animals, and people and look after our region for future generations
  • Safe for activities like swimming
  • Beneficial for activities like fishing
  • Sustainably managed; and
  • Respectful of cultural and historical places

Proposed changes to rules and regulations

Proposed new rules and regulations (provisions) have now been drafted, with mana whenua Kāi Tahu. This Plan will align with a government goal to improve freshwater quality within one generation.

Read more

Find your freshwater area

A freshwater management unit (FMU) is a water body or multiple water bodies believed to be the appropriate scale for managing water.

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Previous community feedback

Otago Regional Council is developing a new Land & Water Regional Plan. We need community input to help improve water quality and waterways. Learn more about the community consultation meetings.

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The big picture

The big picture of resource management in Otago includes the Otago Regional Policy Statement (ORPS) and Land and Water Regional Plan. These guide policies and priorities for freshwater management. The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 complements these plans, focusing on waterbody health and community well-being.

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Te Mana o te Wai

Otago Regional Council is developing a new Land & Water Regional Plan. We need community input to help improve water quality and waterways.

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Partnership with Kāi Tahu

Our partnership with Kāi Tahu aims to build a strong and lasting relationships which allow mana whenua to contribute to decision-making and capacity development. It's a legal requirement but also part of our commitment to meaningful engagement, respecting the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

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Page last updated 12 July 2024.