The much-vaunted new Otago Water Plan rules are about to take
After Environment Court mediation, the Otago Regional Council
has approved Plan Change 6A. The water quality discharge
rules kick in on May 1.
The Environment Court issued a Consent Order on February 28,
incorporating amendments to the plan change. They were agreed
in the mediation process with the council and those who
appealed against its original decisions.
The council said the plan change set out ''an effects-based
approach to managing discharges to water''. The limits and
targets focused on controlling discharges of contaminants,
rather than regulating the land uses that created them.
There were discharge thresholds for common contaminants
entering waterways. Discharges within those thresholds were
classed as permitted activities.
People using the land could meet the thresholds as they saw
fit, the council said.
Policy, planning and resource management director Fraser
McRae said despite the mediation, the rules' key focus had
not changed: maintaining and improving water quality where
necessary to ensure waterways could be used for recreation
Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the Environment
Court's acceptance of the amendments to the plan change and
the council's ratification ended a long and constructive
process of consultation and negotiation with the community.
''Now that this phase has come to a close, another important
phase of implementation and education is about to begin,'' Mr
''I am confident that many landholders, based on the feedback
we have gotten from them throughout this process, will be
proactive about ensuring their properties comply with the new
contaminant discharge thresholds which come into effect from
Until then, land users could assess the effects their
operations were having on water quality, he said. If they
needed to make alterations, there was plenty of time to do
The council would liaise with farmers and foresters to help
them understand the rules, advise them how to assess water
quality on their properties, and promote best practice for
reducing the level of contaminants getting into the water.
''For those for whom complying may be more difficult, our
staff and other primary industry advisers will work
supportively to guide and educate them about the practices
they may need to adopt to comply,'' Mr Woodhead said.
During winter, a forum and roadshows would be held throughout
the region. Council staff were compiling fact sheets and
guides to give out, as well as online advice.
Meanwhile, the council is carrying out a public awareness
survey, asking residents what they know of its activities and
how satisfied they are with its services.
The survey will run until April 28, conducted by the
Tauranga-based Key Research Group. It will telephone 900
people and invite residents to fill out an online survey on
Council chief executive Peter Bodeker said the survey was the
first of its kind the council had embarked on. It would focus
on public understanding of the council's role in the
sustainable management of water, land, air, and public
The feedback would be important in helping to guide the
nature and direction of the council's future activities, Mr
''We hope as many people as possible will complete the online
survey, because that will help us make decisions about
service provision, community engagement, communications, and
activity planning and implementation, and help us prioritise
- by Sally Brooker