There have been several articles in the media recently (see for example here and here) in relation to ECan's lack of response to breaches of water take consents.

In particular, there is a real focus on the non-compliance of over 500 users (around 9% of all water consents held in Canterbury) who do not have the required water-monitors in place. The Resource Management (Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes) Regulations 2010 introduced a requirement on anyone with a resource consent to take water at a rate greater than 5 litres per second to install a water measuring device.

Who do the regulations apply to?

The water monitoring requirements do not apply to the following:

  • Takes of less than 5 litres per second;
  • Takes of geothermal or coastal water; or
  • Takes that are non-consumptive (where the same amount of water is returned back into the same water body, at or near the location from which it was taken, with no significant delay).

All other water takes of over 5 litres per second, regardless of whether water monitoring is a condition of consent, require a monitoring device to be installed.

These regulations have been in effect since 10 November 2010, and all resource consents for water takes granted since then must comply immediately. If your water consent was granted prior to 10 November 2010, compliance with the monitoring requirements depend on the consented volume in the consent:

  • 20 litres per second (l/s) or more – compliance was required by 10 November 2012;
  • 10 l/s up to 20 l/s – compliance was required by 10 November 2014; and
  • 5 l/s up to 10 l/s – compliance is required by 10 November 2016.

What do the regulations require?

Once a monitor is installed, water taken must be measured, and records kept. The regulations require continuous measurements with daily records of volume taken. The records must include days when no water is taken (recorded as 'zero') and be in a format that is able to be audited. The records must then be provided to the regional council which issued the resource consent.

Where to from here?

ECan have responded to the media comments by outlining that all water-users not complying with the monitoring requirements have been contacted, with enforcement action to be taken against anyone who does not comply. The vast majority of users are now compliant – with any remaining non-compliant users being followed up by ECan.

Once all water monitoring is in place, ECan will be in a position to ensure compliance with consent conditions, including ensuring water is not being taken when a river is on restriction, non-compliance with recording requirements, or taking more water than authorised by the resource consent.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.