How do I provide comments and ask questions?

Please send any queries to our email address: minimumflows@orc.govt.nz


When will all the background information be made available, and how can I access it?

All the previous technical and background reports from the individual plan changes are available on the ORC website. This website will be updated as new information becomes available on yoursay.orc.govt.nz/minimumflows, so check back frequently. 


Why are allocation limits excluded from this plan change?

As required by the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, we must address over-allocation in our catchments and identify how this phasing out will occur.  We wish to take more time to discuss options with the community and key stakeholders on this issue, so this will be part of a future plan change. 

This focus of this plan change is setting minimum flows for priority catchments and to provide consistency around the deemed permit replacement process. 

Why is groundwater no longer being included in this plan change for the catchments?

We are not setting maximum allocation limits for aquifers within the catchments at this time because groundwater that is not hydraulically connected to surface water is not managed by minimum flows. (Although groundwater takes from connected aquifers, such as alluvial ribbons, will be subject to the minimum flow that applies to surface water takes from the catchment).

The work that we have done to date on this will be picked up in a future plan change. Timing for this is being scoped now as part of the Progressive Implementation Programme.

What process to do I need to follow to prepare for deemed permit renewal?

With less than three years left in which new application need to be lodged, it is important that consent holders gather information about how much water they are using and the values in the river that water is taken from.  As above it will benefit water users if they form groups to manage water in the future, but this is not always possible.  The Water Users' Handbook outlines the steps to obtaining a replacement permit.  In summary a consent application is required.  Further information and application, forms are available on our website.


What is a minimum flow?

A minimum flow restricts when water can be taken from a river under low flow conditions. When a river drops below its minimum flow, anyone with a consent to take water (other than a deemed permit) must stop taking. It does not apply to some individual permitted activity takes for domestic use, stock drinking water, firefighting and consented takes for scheduled community water supplies.

The aim of setting minimum flows is to protect aquatic ecosystems and the natural character of Otago’s rivers, while taking account of community and stakeholder social, cultural, economic and environmental values. Schedule 2D.1 of the Water Plan contains a list of matters to be considered when setting a minimum flow.

What is a residual flow?

A residual flow applies to specific consents that take water from a tributary of a main river. A residual flow recognises that a tributary stream often has different flow characteristics from the main river stem. It is set at the point of take on a case by case basis, to provide for the aquatic ecosystems and natural character of the source water body, at or downstream of the take point.