Frequently Asked Questions
These are questions raised at the Te Puna Water Quantity Plan Change meeting on Tuesday 8 September 2015. Further questions and answers will be added to this page during the feedback period.
What is surface water?
Surface water is any water present on the land surface, and includes water in streams, rivers, creeks, drains, lakes and wetlands (i.e. where water is present on top of the ground). It also includes water that comes from springs (even if you dig into the spring to install your intake) and water within cave systems, but does not include any geothermal water or coastal water.
What is groundwater?
Groundwater is any water taken from a bore or well. That includes any dug, driven or drilled well.
What is an unauthorised user?
An unauthorised user is someone who is taking or using water without the correct permission. You can take surface water for personal or stock drinking water up to the limiti of 15m3/property/day. Someone taking more than this amount from a stream or river without a resource consent is unauthorised.
How does Council define property?
Property is defined in the Council’s rule book – The Regional Water and Land Plan as: “The land described in a particular certificate of title, or group of contiguous certificates of title owned or leased by the same owner or leaseholder, or land which is designated as a road or reserve or is designated Māori land”
What is a permitted activity?
A permitted activity is an activity that the Resource Management Act requires a resource consent for, unless it is allowed by a rule in a plan (such as the Regional Water and Land Plan). A permitted activity will have conditions that must be complied with. For example the Regional Water and Land Plan allows the taking of up to 15m3 of surface water per property per day as a permitted activity, but the rate of take must not exceed 2.5 litres per second.
Rules and policy for water use
Why do I have a resource consent when my neighbour doesn’t?
Whether or not you need a resource consent depends on the volume of water you are taking and whether it is for drinking water. If your neighbour is able to fit into the Permitted activity rule or is taking water for drinking water they may not require resource consent.
Do the rules apply by property or by title? Has this changed recently?
Rules apply per property. It is not intended to change the definition in the Regional Water and Land Plan. The definition has been in effect since 2008.
I am on a Council water supply or a community water supply scheme. How does the plan change affect me?
People on Council water supply or local schemes do not need individual resource consent for the water use on their property because the supplier (Council or local scheme) will already have resource consent. The water provider is responsible for ensuring you comply with any special conditions they might have and that they comply with their resource consent conditions.
Some changes in the draft may affect the supplier and they should keep abreast of proposals.
What rules are there for storing water?
Damming or storing water helps make water available for use over dry summer periods. The Regional Water and Land Plan has policies and rules about this activity. Resource consent is not required for some small dams, especially where they are not in the bed of permanently flowing streams, but there are conditions to be met. Large dams need resource consent and must meet certain safety standards.
Pumping water to holding tanks or ponds can be part of a resource consent to take water.
How do I go about reducing the allocation on my resource consent?
Council encourages people who no longer need the volume of water they are allocated to reduce the volume of their resource consent. Requests for a reduction in volume are processed free of charge. In some situations a consent holder may be able to transfer part of their consent to another user.
Why has the timeframe for consents changed from 25 to 10 years?
Since the Resource Management Act become law in 1991, BOPRC has generally issued consents for 10 to 15 years. Consent terms relating to major infrastructure (such as municipal supplies) maybe for longer periods. The new Regional Policy Statement provides for a consent term of not more than 15 years, except where the consent is for regionally significant infrastructure or as demonstrated to be appropriate in the circumstances. The draft plan change (policy 79) identifies a consent term of no more than 10 years where the resource is at or exceeding interim limits, and up to 15 years in other water bodies.
Who determines what’s good and efficient water use?
In most cases Council is obligated to allocate water on a first in first served basis and has little ability to decide that a particular water use is ‘better’ than another. In deciding what is an efficient volume, the draft plan change proposes that a model that considers crop requirements, soil and climatic factors to determine irrigation requirements; a water management plan for municipal water supplies; and best management practices or water use audits for other uses. Where the applicant is renewing a resource consent their previous use will also be considered.
Dairy farm water use
Can a dairy farmer using under 15m3 of water/day submit proof of their use to avoid requiring a consent?
If you are comfortable that you use less than 15 cubic metres per day, then you don’t need a consent (so long as you meet the conditions of the permitted activity rule). However, remember that you may be asked to prove how you know you’re using less than 15 cubic metres per day. Metering and keeping water use records may be one way to demonstrate this. You may wish to consider the impacts of only having access to 15 cubic metres per day for use in the dairy shed. Consider what may occur if changes to staff or the shed set-up occur, or what the impact may be if you’re selling your property.
I have less than 215 cows – do I need a consent?
If you are taking less than 15 cubic metres per day for use in your dairy shed, then you may be able to rely on the permitted activity rules to take water without needing a resource consent. Based on the guideline value of 70 litres per cow per day for use in the dairy shed, we expect that herds of less than 215 cows will be taking less than 15 cubic metres per day, but you would be wise to check your water use and ensure you’re taking less than this value. The “permitted” volumes of water are in addition to the water you take for stock drinking and domestic supply (see also FAQ section on ‘Stock and household water takes’).
For both ground and surface water takes, existing at time of plan notification then, subject to the conditions of the rule, the water take may be a permitted activity. New dairy farms or increases to the water requirements on an existing dairy farm would need to go through the normal resource consent process.
What form of water meter is required?
It’s important that water meters are accurate, record water use in cubic metres, and are suited to the type of water they will be measuring (for example water with high sediment load). The water metering regulations require that the accuracy of the meters is verified at installation and every five years afterwards. The regulations also require that meter is capable of being fitted with an electronic data logger (pulse capable). In addition to the requirements of the metering regulations, the draft rules would require all takes over 5 litres per second to be reported on a daily basis, unless there are practical limitations such as lack of cell phone coverage.
What does this meter cost?
Council does not sell water meters and you will need to enquire at your local irrigation or rural supplies store. Price will vary depending on the brand, type of meter, whether or not telemetry is installed and the seller.
How long will a meter last?
Life expectancy is an important consideration when buying a meter. Information about how long different types of meters last can be found on websites referred to above. Irrigation supply shops should provide you with advice when you buy the meter.
How many consents are in place?
At present there are approximately 1300 consents to take and use water in the Bay of Plenty.
Why reduce permitted water takes from 35m3 to 15m3 per property per day?
There are a number of reasons why BOPRC is looking to reduce the permitted volume for groundwater takes. These include:
- that in some places the groundwater resource is under pressure and we need to better manage use of the resource
- an increased awareness that groundwater takes (especially shallow bores) are often closely linked to surface water, so having the same limit is sensible
- requirements of the National Policy Statement Freshwater Management to account for water
Permitted activity water volumes are a bit like a business petty cash jar. Good to avoid unnecessary paperwork that would happen if every little spend needed full documentation, but needs a reasonable limit because there is a limited ability to ensure it is spent appropriately and accounted for.
Who would be affected by reducing permitted water takes from 35m3 to 15m3 per property per day?
It is likely that dairy farmers with between 215 and 500 cows will be most affected by this rule change, because they will now need a resource consent for water used to cool milk and washdown the yard. For most horticulturalists the 15m3 per day will be enough to mix up sprays.
What are the cost implications by industry for these changes?
Council understands that increased requirements about water use may have cost implications. These will be considered in detail in the development of the Section 32 analysis to support the proposed plan change.
Currently dairy farmers using more than 15m3/day of surface water or 35m3/day groundwater already require resource consent and special rules in this plan change simplify this process.
New metering requirements in this plan change generally reflect the requirements of government’s Metering Regulations, that Council is obligated to implement. The metering regulations allow Councils to impose more stringent conditions. The requirement for daily reporting of takes over 5 litres per second is a more stringent requirement and will be subject to more detailed consideration of cost implications.
If I don’t use my allocation, will I lose it?
Your resource consent entitles you to take and use a particular volume of water. BOPRC can’t take this right off you unless your resource consent is reviewed or expires.
All new and renewed resource consents will have review conditions that enable BOPRC to check whether the allocation and use is efficient. Where water resources are fully allocated, consent holders that have more water than they need are stopping other people getting access to water and may need to have a good explanation as to why they should still have the allocation when it comes time for review or renwal. Reasons to keep unused water may include that the seasons have been very wet, or that a new crop or activity is planned.
If I can take 15m3 per day, but don’t use it all, can I store the excess on my property for later?
Yes, you can take up to 15m3/day and store any you don’t use for future use.