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 changeClimate change is bringing hotter, drier summers to our region, and our natural water sources are already showing signs of stress. Flow levels in some western Bay of Plenty streams dropped to record lows in March – May 2020, following several months of exceptionally dry weather. In addition, a large area of the region to the west and north of Rotorua experienced very low flows through the first half of 2021.

We all need to forward-plan and reduce water use where we can, to keep our local waterways, wildlife, and people’s lives and livelihoods healthy, now and in the future.

Regional plan rules and consent conditions are in place to keep waterways healthy under usual weather conditions.

In exceptional circumstances, regional councils can also 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.

Current situation

level 0Whole of the Bay of Plenty – Level 0

Streams, groundwater and rainfall within expected range.


Water Shortage Standard Operating Procedure (July 2021)

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.

No water shortage concerns

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

  • Normal BAU review of data from Council’s monitoring network

Reducing water availability

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

  • Appoint Water Shortage Manager
  • Increased review of stream, soil and groundwater state
  • Analysis of short and long-range weather forecasts
  • Review and refresh (if needed) Stakeholders Communications Plan
  • Update webpage
  • Commence issuing of regular Situation Reports (usually 1-2 monthly)

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.

  • Closer assessment of forecasts, rainfall, stream, soil and groundwater state
  • Convene subject matter expert meeting to evaluate all available data
  • Increase frequency of Situation Reports (at least monthly) – place on website
  • Define catchments/waterbodies of interest (known as Focus Zones)
  • Generate list of potentially affected consent holders (ensure contact details are accurate)
  • Communicate as per Stakeholders Communications Plan – keep webpage updated
  • Specifically, inform consent holders, iwi/ hapū, Councillors, stakeholders, local authorities within Focus Zones of elevated risk of water shortage event

Water shortage event

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

  • Focus Zone Situation Reports increased to every two weeks (unless no change)
  • Convene Water Shortage Decision Group (WSDG) made up of at least four of the following: GM Regulatory Services, GM Integrated Catchments, Environmental Data Services Manager, Science Manager and a Regulatory Compliance Manager (or a senior/experienced delegate)
  • The WSDG shall review recommendations from Water Shortage Manager, including any possible Water Shortage Direction before recommending to CE for approval
  • CE approves issuing a Water Shortage Direction as allowed for by s.329 RMA
  • Inform affected consent holders, iwi/hapū, Councillors and stakeholders at least 5 working days prior to issuing a Water Shortage Direction (NB: this may not always be possible)
  • Increase compliance monitoring of consented and unconsented (where possible) water takes and discharges (if relevant)
  • Water Shortage Manager to review Water Shortage Direction every 14 days. Decision to cancel or reissue to be reviewed by WSDG, prior to CE approval (if decision is to re-issue)

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 Portato access more environmental monitoring information for your particular area.

Assistance is available for farmers and growers who are affected by drought through their industry networks.

We work with MPI, 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.

Whether your water comes from a bore, stream or town supply, we can all take steps to reduce water use. Here’s some links to help get you started:

If you’re concerned about illegal water use, unusually low stream flows, or if your bore has dried up, please let us know by calling our 0800 884 883 Pollution Hotline. 

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.

You can enquire online or give our Duty Consents Officer a call on 0800 884 881 extn. 9090 to check if your water use requires a consent. Find out more on our water take consents web page or by emailing consents.queries@boprc.govt.nz.

All consent holders that take more than five litres of water per second, and most new consent holders taking at a rate less than this, 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. See our water metering web page for details.

See our interactive map of current resource consents for details of all water-use and other resource consents issued by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Further information

BOPRC dry weather infographic

Get notified by email when we update this project.

Send us any feedback, images, videos, news or other content about this project.


28 May 2020


Project Updates

4 months ago

Risk of water restrictions eased

Streams with catchments in the headwaters to the west-southwest of Rotorua, a 60,000-hectare area known as the Rotorua Focus Zone, have been experiencing very low flows throughout the first half of this year.

Risk of water restrictions eased

Streams with catchments in the headwaters to the west-southwest of Rotorua, a 60,000-hectare area known as the Rotorua Focus Zone, have been experiencing very low flows throughout the first half of this year.

During this period, both the Paraiti and Ngongotahā streams have at times recorded their lowest ever flows since permanent monitoring began.

After the rain events in June, Toi Moana has made the decision to move back to Level 1.

There are three alert levels to a dry weather event – Level 1: normal water availability, Level 2: impending water shortage, and Level 3: water shortage event.

Unless there is significant rain over the next few months, the region will likely head into the summer of 2021/22 in a worse starting position that last year. So water users taking water from streams and rivers should be planning for possible restrictions for the future.

10 months ago

Dry weather takes its toll on stream flows in Rotorua region

Bay of Plenty Regional Council are implementing Level 2 of the Water Shortage Event Standard Operating Procedure for some streams with headwaters in the west-southwest of Rotorua. Read more.

12 months ago

Rain offers some relief but more needed to keep drought at bay

The recent wet weather has seen a respite to the dry in the Bay of Plenty - but not enough to lift dry weather warnings yet.

Rainfall recorded since the start of November has exceeded what was recorded for the whole of October and has provided some temporary respite in the soil moisture levels and low river flows across the region. Read more.

about 2 years ago

Managing our way through drought conditions in the Bay of Plenty

As you would have seen, our region has experienced an exceptionally dry period over the last 12 months. In fact, although there has been some rain, the region has only received 60-80 per cent of our usual rainfall so far this year. The result of the dry weather is that the levels in many of our awa, especially in the Western Bay, are very low.  Read more.

about 2 years ago

We’re in for a hot one, let’s do our part

On the back of one of our worst ever recorded droughts, Bay of Plenty Regional Council is asking water users to start thinking about and planning their water use to be better prepared this summer. Read more.

about 2 years ago

River level relief for Bay of Plenty

Recent rain and cooler temperatures have eased immediate concerns about Bay of Plenty’s low stream flow levels, but Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff are warning water users to plan ahead now for next summer. NIWA are forecasting another dry winter this year, which may leave us going into our next summer on the back foot with stream flows that are lower than normal. Local businesses that rely on water, should take steps as soon as possible to increase their business resilience and mitigate the risk of future water shortages. Read more.

about 2 years ago

Western Bay streams at near record low levels

As the dry weather continues, Bay of Plenty Regional Council is asking people to make every effort to reduce water use – especially those in the rural sectors. Read more

about 2 years ago

Regional Council prepares for big dry

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is putting extra preparations in place to ensure the region’s waterways are well cared for if this summer’s dry weather continues. Read more

Send us your questions.

Note: Fields marked * must be filled in.

Only up to 5MB allowed

There are no events scheduled for this project.

Follow what we're working on in the Bay of Plenty.