Otago has its historic gold miners to thank for many of its irrigation schemes. Landowners use water from races, dams, creeks and channels derived from the water races dug by the miners.

Many agricultural businesses in Otago use water permits called 'deemed permits' from these gold mining days. All water permits granted in the Otago region under the old mining laws will expire on 1 October 2021 so if you want to keep using water, you’ll need to apply to ORC for a new water permit (a type of resource consent) before your old one expires. You need to apply as soon as possible but by 1 July 2021 at the latest.

Before you start your resource consent application please phone us on 0800 474 082 or email deemedpermits@orc.govt.nz to let us know what you are planning to apply for. We can then give you some tips and ideas to make the application process easier.

Click here for the forms you will need to use and other information about how to apply for a resource consent.


Proposed Water Permits Plan Change

At an extraordinary Council meeting on 27 November, ORC passed a resolution to undertake a Water Permits Plan Change to bridge the gap between the expiry of water permits in 2021, and when a new Regional Policy Statement and Land and Water Plan for Otago will be operative.

In January 2020, Councillors voted in favour of the option which most closely aligned with Minister Parker’s recommendations to achieve short term, relatively low-cost consents in the interim, while ORC’s Land and Water Regional Plan is developed. This option will apply a blanket approach to ensure that all applicants will have access to a consent term of no more than seven years and will base allocation on actual water use over the five-year period from 2012-2017.

The proposed plan change has been notified and hearings are taking place early in 2021. You can make read more about what's in the proposed plan change here.

Fish and flow data

You may need to provide fish and flow data from rivers and tributaries for discussions with affected parties as part of your resource consent. Click here to request flow data from ORC.