Transitions from 'Deemed Permit' to RMA consent

Otago has the gold miners of old 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. 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.


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Get started - forms and contact information

Putting together a consent application takes time. Start now to ensure you’re application is in by 1 July 2021. You’ll find a lot information in the resource consents section of our website.

To apply for a resource consent to take and use surface water (known as a water permit under the RMA) you must complete the application forms and prepare an Assessment of Environmental effects. The application forms are found here:


You can collect paper copies of these forms from our offices, have them posted to you, or download them above.

You may be required to complete additional forms for other aspects of your activity. Please check with us first, but these may include:

  • if your take involves using water from a water race. There is a two-part process to continue legally accessing the race from which you water is taken. Apply using Form 4B for a ‘Section 417 Certificate’ which must then be registered, similar to an easement, against the title of all lands involved. Read the Section 417 Certificate guidance note;
  • if your take is from a groundwater aquifer that is hydraulically connected to a nearby waterway (Form 5);
  • if you need to install a large water intake structure in a waterway (Form 10C);
  • if you have a permit that is no longer being used and you wish to surrender it (Form 20); or
  • if you want to transfer the ownership/location of whole or part of your take to someone/somewhere else (Forms 15 and 16).

Read all the resource consenting practice and guidance notes here.

Pre-application reminder


Introductory video


Deemed and water permits expiring 1 October 2021

If you apply for a new permit relating to a deemed or water permit between 1 April and 30 June 2021, there is no automatic ability for you to carry on taking water after 1 October 2021 if your new consent is not granted.

However, Council can approve you carrying on taking water until you have a new permit in place. These are called continuance rights. You need to ask for these in your application and in general, they will be approved when:

  • your application is consistent with the nature and purpose of section 124 of the RMA; and
  • your application promotes the purposes and principles of the RMA; and
  • your application is for an activity which is substantially the same as the currently authorised activity under your deemed or water permit.

There is no guarantee that continuance rights will be provided. The decision on continuance rights will be made on an application by application basis and will not be made until your application is lodged with Council. All decisions will be made against the criteria in the RMA 1991 and relevant case law.

It is strongly recommended that all applications are lodged as soon as possible to avoid the need for the application of continuance rights. We also encourage you to contact us soon as possible about your application as we are happy to provide consent advice. Please do not leave putting your application in until the last minute as there is no ability for Council to provide you with continuance rights after 1 July 2021.


Fish and Flows Portal

The Otago Regional Council has pulled valuable science data together in one place: their Fish and Flows Portal. This gives the details you will need for your application, available by location.

Download presentation slides: Fish and Flows web portal (91 KB)


Water Plan provisions and water groups

This presentation outlines the nuts and bolts of group water management, as well as the legal process for updating the legal status around water races. It also gives details of primary, supplementary and paper water allocations.

Download presentation slides: Water Plan Provisions (207 KB) 


Proposed Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7)

Proposed Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7) was publicly notified for submissions on 18 March 2020 and applies to any applications lodged on or after 18 March 2020.  The rules in the proposed plan change have immediate legal effect and therefore must be complied with from that date. This plan change provides an interim regulatory framework for the assessment of applications to renew:

  • deemed permits expiring in 2021; and
  • any other water permits for the take and use of surface water (including connected groundwater) expiring prior to 31 December 2025, the date by which the new Regional Land and Water Plan is expected to be operative.

The Objective and Policy 10A.2.2 of the plan change will also apply to any new application to take surface water and/or connected groundwater.

Read the plan change and supporting information in full here.


What does this mean for applications lodged on or after 18 March 2020?

If your application is lodged on or after 18 March 2020, resource consent will be required under both the Regional Plan: Water for Otago and Proposed Water Permts Plan Change (Plan Change 7).

This means when preparing your Assessment of Environmental Effects, you will need to assess the application against the rules, information requirements and objectives and policies of the Regional Plan: Water for Otago and Proposed Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7). Not all parts of the plan change will apply to your application.

Form 4: Application to take and use surface water contains guidance about how the plan change will affect your application. The form has also been updated to include the additional information required to ensure you application has the information needed in accordance with Proposed Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7).


What does this mean for applications lodged and accepted prior to 18 March 2020?

If your resource consent application has already been lodged and accepted prior to 18 March 2020, then the activity status of your application under in the Regional Plan: Water for Otago will still apply. However, Council will consider the Proposed Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7) objectives and policies when assessing and determining your application.

The Council Officer processing your application will have been in touch with you about your options and whether you wish to proceed with your application as it stands, amend your application or withdraw your application and apply anew. Get in touch with them if you wish to discuss these further.


Contact info

We understand that applying for a water permit can be confusing, and ORC is here to help you. You can call us on 0800 474 082 or email us at

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