New water regulations may start on May 1

New water quality regulations may become operative on May 1 if they get the Otago Regional Council's seal of approval at a meeting today.

The council will consider the amendments made to its 6A water plan change (water quality) through Environment Court mediation.

If the council approves the regulations, they will receive the council's seal and be publicly notified on April 19 and operative on May 1, nearly five years after planning and consultation began.

A report to the council said while amendments to the plan had been negotiated, its basic principles - an effects-based approach to managing discharges to water with a focus on controlling contaminant discharges rather than the land use activities that created them - remained unchanged.

Some amendments were as simple as changing terminology such as standards now being called limits and targets in schedule 15 and discharge limits now being permitted activity discharge thresholds in schedule 16.

Others were more general, including Ngai Tahu values being included throughout and recognition of the coastal marine area where relevant.

Some of the rules had been expanded to include how the compliance system would work and when compliance would be triggered and the actions the council would take when water quality failed to meet limits and targets in schedule 15.

Another change was the Overseer (a nutrient management tool) leaching rate for the Queenstown-Lakes nitrogen-sensitive zone being lifted from 10kg of nitrogen per ha per year to 15kg.

There was also recognition of the differences in land use with outdoor pork, fruit (excluding grapes), berry and rotational vegetable farmers excluded from providing Overseer data to the council until April 2020.

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