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 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.

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.

Water Shortage Event: Level 1 - normal water availability

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.

We always keep a close eye on stream flows and increase our monitoring efforts in dry summers. We’ve never needed a WSD in the Bay of Plenty before and we hope we won’t need to in future, but here’s a summary of the steps we’ll follow if stream flows do get too low and a WSD needs to be considered:


The details of each WSD will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the particular environmental risks and use demands on each affected waterway. It could involve staggered timing for water takes, or a reduction in the amount or rate of take, or the purposes for which people may take water. See a link to our full WSD Standard Operating Procedure at the bottom of this page for further details.

On 12 March 2020, the Government declared a large-scale adverse drought event affecting all of the North Island, including Bay of Plenty. 

Assistance is available for farmers and growers who are affected by the drought through their industry networks, as well as:

We’re working 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.

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 live monitoring page to access more environmental monitoring information for your particular area.

BOPRC dry weather infographic

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28 May 2020


Project Updates

2 months 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.

4 months 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

5 months 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

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