As our economy continues to grow, so too does the pressure on this region’s natural resources. This is especially the case with water, as an increasing number of people take freshwater from the ground and our rivers, lakes and streams to live or help to run their businesses. In some parts of the Bay of Plenty too much water is being taken. 

Water take consents

Resource consents help to ensure that our natural and physical resources are allocated and used efficiently and sustainably. In the Bay of Plenty we currently have more than 1300 consents to take and use water from ground and surface water sources, but we know there are many more users out there.

So we can all get an accurate understanding of how much water is available we need to know how much water is being taken from all users.  

What do the rules say

The Regional Natural Resources Plan promotes the sustainable and integrated management of land and water resources within the Bay of Plenty. This Plan gets updated as we get a better understanding on the health of these resources.

The part of the Plan that relates to water quantity has recently been updated and the changes carried out under Plan Change 9 (PC9). PC9 looks to address the increasing pressure on this regions water sources by strengthening water allocation limits and management practices. It brings some significant changes to those already taking ground and/or surface water.

Prior to PC9 many smaller orchards were able to access a limited water take for their orchard and not require a resource consent. To be fair to all water users, the new rules lower the maximum daily volume and maximum rate thresholds and mean that the average orchard will no longer be covered under the permitted take rules.

Based on the proposed new rules, a permitted take for surface water is anything under 15m3 (15,000L) per day. For ground water it’s now based on property size, so orchards over 5 hectares can use up to 35m3 (35,000L) per day where as those under 5 hectares must not exceed 15m3/day.

Under these new rules, those properties under 5 hectares are actually losing some of their previous permitted allocation at it was previously 35m3/day. However these properties still have options to retain their level of take if they obtain a simple controlled activity consent to take up to 35m3/day.

If your water take is more than the thresholds described above you need to apply for a consent.

How do I know how much water I’m using?

We cannot manage what we don’t measure so we need accurate, complete and current water information to establish how much water is being used across the region. Water meters are the most effective way to monitor water use and if you’re using more than 5 litres per second, they are a Ministry for the Environment requirement. They can detect small leaks and losses and are an effective way to track seasonal and annual consumption. Check out water metering to learn about these rules.

Metering requirements

How often you report your water metering information depends on your property size, where you get your water from and at what rate. You can find out these reporting requirements (eg daily or monthly) on pages 23 and 24 of proposed Plan Change 9.

If daily recording and reporting is required – installation of telemetry is the most practical way to meet this. You can do this yourself or through a third party provider. 

If monthly recording and reporting is required, consent holders will need to enter their water use data in to Bay of Plenty Regional Council Water Users Data Management System (WUDMS). 

Do I need consent? 

Anything above the permitted take thresholds for ground and/or surface water will need a resource consent. Other scenarios that require resource consent include:

  • Prior to drilling a new bore.
  • For surface water takes (stream/river) taking at a rate of 2.5 litres or more.
  • In conjunction with other abstractors, taking more water than what the instream minimum flow requirement requires.

The basic rule of thumb is any orchard over 1 hectare that is irrigating could easily exceed the above permitted volumes and those employing frost protection will definitely have the potential to use a lot more water within 24 hours than the permitted volumes.

Where do I start?

The resource consent process starts with the applicant preparing their application according to the application form for that activity. There are specific forms for specific activities and we have summarised the main application forms relating to water take below.

It’s important that prior to submitting your application you understand what is required, have checked the relevant rules and plans and consulted those who could be affected by the activity, including tāngata whenua. The application forms will guide you through this but remember our Consents team are here to help too. Contact the Duty Consents Officer for help on 0800 884 880.

How much water has been allocated already? 

Check out our groundwater allocation map tool. More info here