The Regional Plan: Water for Otago manages water within the region’s boundaries.

The plan became operative on 1 January 2004 and regulates the environmental effects created by using water, activities in waterbodies or discharges of contaminants into the environment. If you are doing activities involving water or land use activities that may affect water, you must comply with the rules in the plan. 

Purpose of the plan

The plan promotes the sustainable management of Otago’s water resources. It sets policies and methods (including rules) to address the use, development and protection of Otago’s freshwater resources, including the beds and margins of waterbodies.

Area covered by the plan

The plan covers all freshwater in Otago, including lakes, rivers, groundwater and wetlands. The Water Plan does not cover coastal water except where activities on land may affect such water.

Why you should read the plan

Under the Water Plan rules: 

  • you can carry out permitted activities 
  • you need a resource consent for some activities 
  • you cannot carry out prohibited activities.

You will need a resource consent for anything the Water Plan describes as a controlled, restricted discretionary, discretionary or non-complying activity.

Review of the Water Plan

On 31 October 2018, Council approved a full review of the Water Plan. This review will be incorporated into the new Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP), which will be notified late 2024. 

Download the Regional Plan: Water

The plan below includes all operative plan changes and amendments that are operative as at 5 March 2022.

You can download the full Plan or individual Chapters below.

Note: Differing dates on page footers and maps show when each page or sheet was last updated.

Regional Plan: Water (chapters 1 - 19)

Schedules (1 – 21) plus Glossary and Appendices


Order a copy

You can order a free paper copy of the Plan, Schedules and Maps or an electronic copy on USB for $10 (GST inclusive) by:


Page last updated 25 June 2024.