7 July 2020

Have your say on proposed plan changes for water quality and water permits

On 6th July, the Environmental Protection Authority notified three important Otago proposed plan changes: two that strengthen water quality provisions and one that deals with replacing expiring water permits and directs a duration for new water permits.

Earlier this year, ORC asked Minister for the Environment David Parker to ‘call-in’ the three plan changes to allow staff to focus on the development of a new Land and Water Regional Plan. Gwyneth Elsum, General Manager for Policy, Science and Strategy said at the time, “The proposed plan changes are a “quick-fix” to put a framework in place to deal with immediate problems in our current Water Plan. This will allow us to focus on reviewing and updating our Regional Policy Statement and continue our work towards a new Land and Water Regional Plan that will be in line with national water policy direction.”

Water Permits Plan Change

The proposed Water Permits Plan Change (which proposes provisions to manage the replacement of deemed permits and expiring water permits) was notified by ORC in March 2020. It is now being re-notified by the EPA. Anyone can make a submission on this plan change here. Please note – if you have already made a submission to ORC, you may make another submission to EPA if you wish. All submissions (those already received by ORC and those sent to the EPA) will be considered together.

Water Quality Plan Changes

The Water Quality Plan Changes (also known as “Omnibus”) propose new regulations to improve water quality in Otago. It includes two different plan changes: Plan Change 8 (Discharge management) to the Water Plan, and Plan Change 1 (Dust suppressants and landfills) to the Waste Plan.

The proposed plan changes include new policies and rules that:

  • Strengthen policy direction for assessing resource consent applications for discharges of stormwater, wastewater and contaminants from rural land uses
  • Improve minimum standards for effluent storage systems and discharges of effluent to land
  • Promote good farming practice for high-risk practices, through:
    • introduction of controls on intensive winter grazing
    • exclusion of dairy cattle and pigs from lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands
  • Provide for the use of sediment traps in intermittently flowing rivers
  • Strengthen provisions for managing sediment loss from earthworks for residential development
  • Clarify policies relating to the establishment of regionally important infrastructure in wetlands
  • Introduce improved controls on the use of dust suppressants
  • Strengthen the policy direction for assessing resource consent applications for landfills

Friend of the Submitter

Anyone can make a submission on these plan changes. Find out more and make a submission at www.epa.govt.nz/ORCplanchanges. The submissions period is open until 17 August 2020.

ORC has engaged a “Friend of the Submitter” to help the community with how to lodge a submission to the EPA. Emma Spalding can be contacted, free of charge, at friend@orc.govt.nz or 027 696 1009 from 10am-12pm and 7-8.30pm on each working day during the notification period. She can help guide you through the submission process, give advice on how to capture your views, and explain what happens after your submission is lodged. She cannot help you with the content of your submission.