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"Upwards of 800'' submissions have been lodged on Environment Southland's (ES) Water and Land Plan.
Submissions closed on Monday and chief executive Rob Phillips said staff would be able to confirm a final tally later this week.
The proposed plan, released in June after a 15-month consultation period, aims to improve water quality by shifting farmers and other land users to good management practices.
Among proposed rules are tougher requirements on managing activities known to adversely affect water quality, such as land use intensification, wintering, and stock in waterways, and requiring an estimated 3000 to 3500 rural landowners to produce environment management plans.
Resource consent would also be required for all dairy farm conversions and if dairy farmers wished to increase herd numbers.
Last week, Federated Farmers and Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay called for the submissions deadline to be extended by two weeks, to give farmers more time.
However, Mr Phillips said ES was unable to do that because it would have required a council resolution and there was not another council meeting until after Monday's deadline had passed.
He said submitters with valid reasons had until Monday to lodge late submissions. After that, any late submissions would be included at the discretion of the hearing panel.
"Submissions have been open since June 3. We were very conscious of the timing of the submission period as we know our engagement period last year came at a very busy time for the farming community.''