Water Use Beyond 2021

The use of water for irrigation in Central Otago is largely authorised by historic gold mining privileges that were originally issued by warden’s courts as property rights in perpetuity.

When the Resource Management Act was passed in 1991 these mining rights were redefined as “deemed permits” so that they could continue to be used for taking water for irrigation. Under the Act, deemed permits were given a life of 30 years and irrigators wishing to continue to take water after this time are required to apply for a resource consent. The 30 year life of the deemed permits expires on 1 October 2021.

As the replacement of deemed permits is worked through, sustaining current and future economic activity will create some challenges for the Central Otago community. In particular, striking a balance between the over-allocation of many of the district’s streams and rivers (which occurred when mining privilege water rights were created) and environmental priorities such as minimum flows.

What's happening now?

Otago Regional Council

(a)  Proposed Plan Change 5A (Lindis Integrated Water Management)  

This proposed plan change will set minimum flows and allocation limits for the Lindis river and connected Lindis Alluvial Ribbon Aquifer and maximum allocation limits for other aquifers in the Bendigo-Tarras Basin.

(b)  Proposed Plan Change 5C Integrated Water Management:  Manuherikia Catchment

The Council is seeking feed back from the community to inform the development of a plan change to the Regional Plan: Water for Otago to set environmental flows (including minimum flows) and limits for groundwater in the Manuherikia catchment.  

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