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Dry weather water management

We monitor and manage the taking of water from the region’s rivers, streams, lakes and aquifers, to ensure that water is used efficiently and that our waterways are well cared-for.

Climate change is bringing more extreme weather and in recent years our natural water sources have been showing signs of stress. Regional plan rules and consent conditions are in place to keep waterways healthy under usual weather conditions.

In exceptional circumstances, Regional Council can put temporary extra water use restrictions in place where needed to protect waterways from environmental harm. These take the form of a Water Shortage Direction (WSD) under s.329 of the Resource Management Act.

In addition to our relationship with local Councils who operate municipal (urban) water supplies, we also work with MPI, Emergency Management, Rural Support Trust and local industry representatives through the Bay of Plenty Primary Sector Co-ordination Group to support a co-ordinated regional drought response.

Current situation

Latest update: 21 December 2023

level 0Whole of the Bay of Plenty – Level 0

Streams, groundwater and rainfall within expected range.


Water Shortage Event Levels

The following levels can be in place for the whole of the Bay of Plenty, or only apply to certain Focus Zones. Focus Zones can refer to specific waterbodies, whole catchments, multiple catchments, or districts. The Focus Zones will always be identified via a Focus Zone map.


level 0

No water shortage concerns

Streams, groundwater and rainfall within expected range. No issues of concern.

level 1

Reducing water availability

Lower than expected levels of any of the following occurring: rainfall, stream flows, groundwater and/or soil moisture.

level 2

Impending water shortage

Any or all of the following occurring: continued reduction in stream flows and/or groundwater levels, lack of rainfall i.e. growing risk to waterway health.

level 3

Water shortage event

Low flow and/or drought conditions affecting waterways i.e. risk to waterway health.

In 2020, Council approved a Standard Operating Procedure to manage a water shortage event and issue a Water Shortage Direction if required. A Water Shortage Direction may include restrictions on water takes and discharges for consent holders.

There are lots of great resources online around preparing for dry weather. Here are some links to help you get prepared:

Weather updates

Urban information

Rural support

Financial assistance

Farmers and rural landowners can also get in touch with Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust or Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers for advice and support.

We collect real-time rainfall, river level, stream flow and soil moisture data from more than 100 monitoring sites throughout the region. Check out the map links below for:

See our Environmental Data Portal to access more environmental monitoring information for your particular area.

You will need to apply for a resource consent if you want to take water for any purpose other than for reasonable domestic household or stock drinking use, if:

  • You are taking more than 35,000L per day (35m3/day) from a groundwater source (bore, well); or
  • You are taking more than 15,000L per day (15m3/day) from a surface water source (river, stream, spring, pond, drain), or are taking at a rate of more than 2.5 litres per second.

All consent holders are required to accurately measure and report on their actual water use. In most cases, this means that the water meter information will be required to be telemetered to Council.

Find out more about water take and metering.

You can enquire online or email  to check if your water use requires a consent.