We monitor and manage water use to make sure waterways stay healthy. If you wish to use significant amounts of water you may need to apply for a resource consent. Make sure you check with the Council that you are following regulations correctly for all water use.
Resource consents allow for groundwater or surface water to be allocated amongst different users. Water take consents can be issued for any purpose (unless it is a prohibited activity) but will only be granted if the water use is efficient and will not have a significant environmental or cultural impact.
Council is required by law to accept and process a complete consent application for any kind of water use. Each consent application is assessed and considered on a case-by-case, and first in-first served basis.
We currently manage more than 1200 active resource consents to take and use water in the Bay of Plenty. These include for town drinking water, electricity supply or industrial use, horticulture, and agriculture. Sixty-seven consents are held for local water supply and seven are held by water bottling companies.
Irrigation NZ have issued some advice for irrigators to help them manage their water allocation during dry conditions.
Council’s Regional Natural Resources Plan and Proposed Plan Change 9 inform water allocation in the region. For groundwater the allocation limit is based on 35 percent of residual average aquifer recharge. Council also has a scientific monitoring and modelling programme in place to increase our understanding of recharge rates, water use impacts and surface water connections in the region's aquifers. Investigations into specific aquifers are carried out as part of our resource consent process.
Our groundwater monitoring network currently includes 54 water level monitoring bores and 22 bores that we collect water quality data from. We monitor rainfall and river water entering and leaving the aquifers, and people’s consented use of groundwater and surface water.
View our groundwater allocation map tool below.
Surface water is all the water we can see including: rivers, streams, lakes, drains, ponds, springs, and wetlands.
Our scientists identify a low flow level for each waterway, called Q5. It’s a seven-day average level that’s calculated from continuous monitoring and manual sampling data. There’s a 20 percent likelihood of Q5 levels occurring in any one year.
Generally 90 percent of that low flow (Q5) average is protected to support natural processes, leaving 10 percent of that amount available for people to use. High flows, above average levels may also be available for people to take.
The Assessment of surface water availability and estimates of current allocation levels October 2016 provides surface water consent allocation data that was the best known available information at the time of publication. As new water is allocated or existing consents expire and are not renewed, that data will become out of date. Over time there may also be revised estimates of flow as more science becomes available.
An approved resource consent will identify a maximum amount of water the consent holder may take. This is usually described as a daily limit in m3, and often we will define a maximum pumping or abstraction rate as well. The amount of water the consent holder can take will depend on a few different factors including:
- How many other water users there are in the source catchment.
- The efficiency of the proposed water use relative to the activity it will be taken for.
- The type of water body water is to be taken from.
- Other uses of the source water body such as recreational and cultural purposes.
- The health of the water body you wish to take water from (taking water can sometimes cause water quality issues due to reduced water levels or flow rates).
- The water levels in the source catchment.
All new consent holders are required to accurately measure and report on their actual water use at least annually. Water metering regulations apply to many (but not all) older water use consents. For more information see water metering and how to submit water use data.
A catchment is an area of land where all the surface water (such as rivers, lakes and streams) and groundwater, all flow to one particular watercourse like a major river.
Proposed new water use rules and provisions in the Bay of Plenty Regional Natural Resources Plan (Plan Change 9) were publicly notified as approved by Council on 9 October 2018. The rules are currently under appeal.
The new rules were proposed to help secure clean, plentiful fresh water supplies that can support everyone’s lives, livelihoods and the environments we all love. They have implications for both existing and new water takes.
As currently proposed, the new rules will require many existing water users to:
- install a water meter and start recording daily water use, and/or
- register their permitted water takes, or
- apply for resource consent
The proposed rules will not affect people who use water only:
- from their local council supply or geothermal sources (>30°C), or
- for reasonable, individual domestic use and/or stock drinking water in accordance with the Resource Management Act s14(3)(b).
Find out more
You can sign up for occasional email updates about appeal resolution and what water users must do to comply with the new rules.
Alternatively, email email@example.com or call us on 0800 884881 ext 9060 to discuss what the proposed new rules may mean for your water use.
More changes to come
Plan Change 9 is the first step in a two-stage approach to improving the rules for water quality and quantity management in the Bay of Plenty. We also are working with communities to set limits at a localised level to meet water quality and quantity targets for specific areas and waterways (Freshwater Management Units). This is underway in the Kaituna Maketū, Pongakawa Waitahanui and Rangitāiki catchments* and will be publicly consulted on as Proposed Plan Change 12 from 2019. It will roll out to other parts of the region in the coming years.
*A catchment is an area of land where all the surface water (such as rivers, lakes and streams) and groundwater, all flow to one particular watercourse like a major river.
Groundwater allocation map tool
|WARNING: Information displayed on these maps is indicative only.|
Information presented in this map tool is for the purpose of general guidance only.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council has made every reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy of this map tool. However to the maximum extent permitted by law the Bay of Plenty Regional Council makes no representations or warranties (express or implied) about its accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability for any particular purpose. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council excludes and disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages (including indirect or consequential damage) and costs which you might incur as a direct or indirect result of the tool being inaccurate or incomplete in any way or for any reason.
Over time there may be revised estimates of the amount of water that is allocated to be taken and the allocation limits (the amount of resource use available). The Bay of Plenty Regional Council will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the Tool is updated promptly to reflect the revised estimates. If you are considering applying to take groundwater from a particular source you should contact the Bay of Plenty Regional Council directly to request the most up to date information available.
By using this application you are acknowledging you have read and understood the above disclaimers and will not hold BOPRC the Bay of Plenty Regional Council liable for any loss incurred through misuse of the following data.
The allocation accounting tool used to generate the map is regularly updated from our resource consents database. It produces maps and information that show estimates of how much water is currently allocated. Current allocation is calculated by summing the annual volume (cubic metres per year) allocated via resource consents to take water in each of the respective water groundwater management zones. There are known limitations in the data used to prepare these accounts. Where a resource consent does not specify an annual allocation it is estimated based on the daily volume being taken for a set number of days per annum. The map and information show indicative allocations and cannot be relied solely on to determine actual allocations.
The level of allocation shown on the map does not include:
- Takes for stock drinking water and domestic needs under Section 14(3)(b) of the Resource Management Act 1991.
- Takes that can be undertaken as a permitted activity without a resource consent in accordance with rules in the Regional Natural Resources Plan.
- Resource consent applications to take or divert water that have been lodged but not determined.
This means that in some areas the actual amount of water that is being taken may exceed what is displayed.
Although care has been taken to prepare these maps and information there may still be errors. Please advise Bay of Plenty Regional Council if you have concerns or suspicions that the information presented contains errors.