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.