News - Opuha Water Limited


Notice of Annual General Meeting

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To All Opuha Water Shareholders

The Annual General Meeting of Opuha Water Limited has been scheduled for TUESDAY 8th NOVEMBER 2016 at the Pleasant Point Golf Club, Butlers Road, Pleasant Point.  

Refreshments from 3.30pm, followed by the AGM at 4.00pm.

Please refer to the attached information pack which contains the following important documents:

  • Notice of Annual General Meeting to be held on 8th November 2016
  • A Proxy form for the Annual General Meeting
  • Minutes of Meeting of the Annual General Meeting held on 30th November 2015

A copy of the Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2016 can be downloaded from this link –

adobe-pdf-logoTo read this information pack, please download the PDF version here:


Water Restrictions Update #1 – 29/09/2016

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To All Opuha Water Users 

Despite the very full lake (we are currently 103% full) there are still concerns about the overall conditions in the catchment – especially the low level of snow pack compared with normal conditions. Up until the light but widespread rain we have experienced over the last week, soil moisture conditions were also comparatively low. We have allowed the lake level to rise to its current very high level since we have completed the installation of the new spillway gates on the downstream weir.

We have met with the OEFRAG group and the consensus was that we are much better to take a conservative approach to the season and start with a low level of restriction in October in both the river and for irrigation use.


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Newsletter – 25/07/2016

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We’ve just passed mid-year and this newsletter provides an update on our water storage situation which has had a real shot-in-the-arm from the nor’ west rain into the top of the catchment earlier this month. We’re now looking for some decent snowfall to provide us with the reserve and confidence we need to start the next season.

The newsletter also contains some advice on meetings with various shareholder groups over the next few weeks, an update on the budget and water charges for this year and there are a number of water share parcels that are being put up for sale and lease.

Work on the upgrade of the Downstream Weir has continued to move along and there is a brief update on this project included.

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Environmental Management Update – 11/07/2016

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There has been a lot going on in the environmental arena recently – at a regional policy level, as well as a local scheme level. 

In this newsletter we would like to update you on these matters as they will impact you all – for some this impact will be immediate, for others it will be in the longer term.  It can sometimes be easy to ‘keep your head down and hope it blows over’ when it comes to environmental regulation, but the bottom-line is it will affect everyone.  We therefore encourage you to please read the newsletter carefully and consider what this means to your farming operation, and what your next move needs to be.

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Lake level chart

Lake Level – July 2016

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The lake storage has been building slowly over the last seven weeks and has now reached our long term average for this time of year. Most of the early June snowfall has melted and this has contributed to the steady lake inflows despite the low rainfall over the period.


Newsletter – 19/05/2016

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It has been a while since our last communication in mid-March when we were advising of the need for some interim restrictions to limit the lake drawdown.

Since that time we’ve seen a continuation of dry and warm conditions which have resulted in reduced lake inflows and calls from a few irrigators for some water to irrigate – very unusual to see those conditions in May!  As I write this, it looks like we might be in for a bit of a lashing over the weekend which I expect will make it feel more like autumn/winter.

In this newsletter, I will update on the conditions up at the lake as our irrigation season concludes and also introduce some very important water policies that have been signed off on by the Board.  Work has started up at the dam site on the upgrade of the Downstream Weir and there is an update on this project included.

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160519 Newsletter incl Water Policies


Water Restrictions Notice #10 – 11/03/2016

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We have approval to reduce the river flows back from the prescribed March and April flows but we are also looking for some reductions in irrigation use with the 25% restriction.  We are going to operate this again on a volumetric basis over the remaining three weeks of March with rolling fortnightly reviews.

I realise this is at odds with the advice that I gave at the beginning of February when it did look like there was sufficient storage.  The inflows dropped dramatically around the whole catchment at the end of February and into March so that we are now releasing significantly more than anticipated to maintain flows and irrigation supplies.  The catchment inflows are now less than for the same period last year.

All irrigators are to please plan their water use to limit their takes to a 75% allocation for the three weeks to the end of March.

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160311 Water Restriction Notice 10

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Water Restrictions Notice #9 – 03/02/2016

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The rain events in January have had a significant (positive!) impact on the lake storage and we have now lifted all restrictions on irrigation and river flows.

Although we will continue to monitor conditions closely, we are reasonably confident that we will now be able to maintain full irrigation supply and river flows for the remainder of the season.  This is the first time since December 2014 that we have not been operating with some constraint on either irrigation supply or river flows – great news and a very surprising turnaround from our position at New Year.

We have included some additional important information in the attached notice, including an update on the appointment of a new Chairman for the Opuha Board that was decided on Tuesday.

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160204 Water Restriction Notice 9

160121 photo for newsletter

Water Restrictions Notice #8 – 21/01/2016

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Shareholders and Irrigators
The rain events we have had in January, but in particular the high rainfall on the 19th, had a very positive impact on the lake storage.  We are now very confident of our ability to be able to maintain continuous supply through to the end of the season but we are taking a precautionary approach at this stage as far as lifting restrictions altogether.

Irrigators should aniticpate resuming initially on a 75% allocation but can be confident that this is the highest level of restriction we should need to get through the season.  We will review this regularly with a view to easing restrictions as soon and as far as we can.

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160121 Water Restriction Notice 8

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Water Restrictions Notice #7 – 24/12/2015

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Shareholders and Irrigators
As we had signalled in our previous update, we have moved to a 50% restriction regime effective from 23rd December – we anticipate this regime may need to remain in place right through January.  

Despite the rain on the 16th and 17th which saw 20mm-30mm across the catchment, the drawdown on the lake is still significantly higher than last season as we would be quickly using up the buffer in lake storage we have been able to establish through the earlier restrictions and reduced river flows we have implemented this season.  The 50% restriction regime will be on a volumetric basis which seems to be providing better flexibility to many of our irrigators.

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151224 Water Restriction Notice 7

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Water Restrictions from 23/12/2015

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Shareholders and Irrigators

At the last update we advised that we were anticipating the need to move to a 50% regime from 23rd December.  This note is to confirm that we will be implementing this new restriction and we would expect all users below the dam to be on a 50% regime by 6pm on Wednesday 23rd December 2015.  The rain last week provided some reprieve – both to farmers and to the lake – but inflows are still around 20% below last December and water use is higher so we are using the lake storage at a greater rate than last season.

Attached is a summary report which has been prepared for tomorrow’s OEFRAG meeting – for your information.

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151221 OEFRAG Update

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Water Restrictions Notice #6 – 11/12/2015

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Shareholders and Irrigators
Please refer to the attached Water Restriction Notice which outlines our expectation that we will move to a 50% regime in the week before Xmas – most likely 23rd December.
Conditions have deteriorated with inflows especially dropping of dramatically.  While we have been able to establish a buffer in the lake storage compared with last season, we are now drawing down the storage at a greater rate than this time last season. If we are to improve the likelihood of maintaining some level of continuous supply through the season, we regrettable believe we need to move to 50% earlier than the New Year.  We will confirm this at the start of the Xmas week, but we would need a substantial rain to postpone the need for this next level of restriction.

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151211 Water Restriction Notice 6

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Water Restrictions Notice #5 – 01/12/2015

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We have been operating through November with an irrigation allocation based on 75% of monthly volume for below dam users.  Out final assessment is that total irrigation use averaged 70% for the month which is a good outcome and the intention is to continue on into December with the same constraint – ie. all users below dam should base their monthly water use on using no more than 75% of their volumetric entitlement.

We do need to signal now though, that we believe it is highly likely we will be operating on a 50% allocation regime from the start of the New Year.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151201 Water Restriction Notice 5

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Water Restrictions Notice #4 – 20/11/2015

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Shareholders/Irrigators – Please refer to the attached Water Restriction Notice.  We are running very close to our 75% limit on a month to date basis and the recent increase in irrigation use suggests that there is a need for some restraint to conserve the storage.  The notice outlines that already it is evident that the catchment inflows are less than last year and that we will need to continue to restrict water use if we are to avoid a full cessation in supply as occurred last year.

We have sent out notices today to individual irrigators who, based on our water order information, will need to wind back significantly to remain within the 75% cap.  It is important to note that for the majority of our irrigators we actually RELEASE water from the dam based on the water orders – so it is essential that your water order reflects intended use. As is our long standing policy – if you have ordered it, you are deemed to have used it.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151120 Water Restriction Notice 4

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Water Restrictions Notice #3 – 29/10/2015

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Since we lifted water restrictions two weeks ago, the irrigation demand and water use have skyrocketed to a peak level only exceeded one other time in the previous three seasons.  We realise that conditions have been dry around the scheme and there is a lot of concern about the season ahead, however I feel we need to implement a level of restriction if we are to stay on track with our objective of maintaining supply right through the season.

For the month of November, irrigators are required to moderate their water use to use less than 75% of their volumetric allocation for the month.  

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151029 Water Restriction Notice 3

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Water Restrictions Notice #2 – 12/10/2015

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OEFRAG met on 12th October and there was agreement to lift all irrigation restrictions for the next (fortnight) period. This takes effect immediately. The minimum river flow required has been lifted slightly to 7 cumecs (a reduction of 1.5 cumecs on the ORRP minimum).

Given that conditions do vary somewhat around the scheme and depending on individual land type and land use, we are not expecting all our irrigators to be going to 100% irrigation but I would expect everyone will be doing what is necessary to maintain soil moisture levels and to ensure the best opportunity is taken of the current favourable growing conditions. We do still expect a very ‘tight’ year and we will continue to review conditions and any restrictions on a regular basis.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151012 Water Restriction Notice 2


Water Restrictions Notice #1 – 01/10/2015

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As I have indicated in recent newsletters, we are taking a very pre-cautionary approach to managing the water storage this season and we expect to operate under a ‘managed regime’ at least for the early part of the season when we have more potential for greater savings overall with less impact on irrigators.

Consistent with that message, we are seeking the cooperation of all our irrigators in managing their water use at this time.  We will be attempting to keep up with the conditions around the region, both on-farm and in-river and adjusting our position accordingly to account for changing conditions and requirements.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151001 October 2015 Water Restriction Notice

150915 september 2015 newsletter.picture

Newsletter – September 2015

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We have started the irrigation season (1st September) but, as with most years, we are not anticipating any real irrigation demand this month. I will explain in this newsletter how we intend to manage the storage and irrigation requirements at this early part of the season – no surprise to most of you that we will be taking a very precautionary approach.

In this newsletter I will provide updates on the lake storage, the start of the irrigation season and the progress with the investigations into the contaminant claims. I cover a few things that are happening up at the dam – current work and our plans for next year.
We have an opportunity for some irrigation management training for those who have not done this very successful course previously and we’re also in the market for an Operations and Asset Manager – see overleaf for details.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo150915 September 2015 Newsletter

snow estimate pic

Newsletter – August 2015

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The Board of Opuha Water and I believe it is appropriate to resume more regular update to our shareholders as we approach spring and the new irrigation season. As well as the newsletters, we will be posting regular updates on our website where you will be able to see the lake level and also our estimates of relative snowpack in the upper catchment.  I will aim to provide regular newsletters to report primarily on water storage and our outlook for the season ahead and also update on other relevant matters.

In this newsletter, you will find updates on:
1. The current water storage situation
2. Discussions with ECan about sediment sampling protocols
3. Our usual round-up of Operations and Environmental activities, shares available and other news
4. Our recent Infrastructure Group meetings
5. Some further shareholder feedback meetings proposed for this month

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo150814 – Newsletter – August 2015

150810 Lake Update

Update on Lake Level 10 August 2015

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As at 10th August, the lake level has reached 67% (387.2m RL). The chart indicates that are below the historical average for August of 76% (388.4m RL) and below the level at the same time last year 82% (389.1m RL). However, the increased rate of fill over the last week is encouraging although the cold temperatures have eased the inflows back over the weekend.

We have been able to maintain the releases from the dam at a minimum of 1.5 cumecs as the lower catchment river flows have maintained adequate flow at Saleyards Bridge. We have had a series of rolling Water Shortage Directions in place through OEFRAG and ECan, that have assisted in maintaining a minimum flow regime at the lake. Our efforts are concentrated on getting the lake as close to 100% full by the end of September as we can.

There is some fresh snow surrounding the lake and on the hills behind the dam. Up until this latest snowfall, there appeared to be even less snow than at the same time last year. We will need to wait for a few days to establish the extent of snowpack top-up from the last few days.

150715 Lake Level Graph

Update on Lake Level 15 July 2015

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As at 15 July, the lake level has reached 55.7% (385.6m RL). The chart indicates that this is still below the historical average for July of 66% (387.1m RL) and below the level at the same time last year 76% (388.4m RL). However, the steady fill of the lake since reaching its minimum level in early March is encouraging.

Releases from the dam have been maintained at a minimum of 1.5 cumecs since March as every effort is made to increase the lake storage with a target of being close to 100% full by the end of September.

There is currently some snow on the hills behind the dam, and more than last year, however (at this stage) it does appear to be a significant amount that would provide some confidence of getting high spring inflows from snow melt.

150619 Snow at the Lake

Newsletter – June 2015

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It has been a while since our last newsletter and this is the first update to you all since we came out of the unprecedented dry summer conditions that, for the first time, saw the lake empty and irrigation cut-off in February.
As I’m writing this, the winter storm and snow is just arriving, so I hope that doesn’t cause any major problems for you all – it’s water in the bank at least!.

In this issue, I will update you on the lake storage situation and also on what we are doing to improve our ability to manage our limited storage should we be faced with another extreme dry summer.
I will also update on a number of operational issues including the major maintenance work at the power station, introduce some of the policy development work we have underway and look ahead at our programme for Farm Environment Plans and some upcoming shareholder meetings.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo20150618 –  Newsletter – June 2015

Industry Agreed Good Management Practices

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Retrieved from

Environment Canterbury today (28/05/2015) welcomed the launch of “Industry Agreed Good Management Practices Relating to Water Quality” by the primary sectors.

Commissioner Tom Lambie, chair of the Matrix of Good Management Governance Group, said the guide represented a milestone in terms of the primary sectors collaborating to help address water quality issues both in Canterbury and throughout New Zealand.

“The Matrix of Good Management project aims to estimate the ‘footprint’ of nitrogen and phosphorus loss for the range of farm systems in Canterbury today, assuming that they are operating at good management practice,” Mr Lambie said.
“This means we need to be clear about what constitutes good management on farms and the guide launched today will go a long way towards achieving that. Good management practice should be the minimum standard for the primary sector. Farm environment plans are central to this.
“Our approach has been to ask the industry partners in the project – DairyNZ, Deer Industry New Zealand, NZPork, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Horticulture NZ and the Foundation for Arable Research – to consult widely within their sectors to define good management practice,” Mr Lambie continued.
“Over the past 18 months, a great deal of hard work by a large number of farmers and growers has culminated in the definitions of good management practice set out in the guide.”

Tom Lambie paid tribute to the commitment of many organisations and individuals in reaching this point. “It would not have been possible to achieve this milestone of industry-agreed, pan-sector good management practice descriptions without the thoughtful contributions, willingness to listen, and sheer determination of many people from both the Canterbury and national farming community,” he said.

For the new guide, go to

Background – Matrix of Good Management and Good Management Practices
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management requires councils to set and manage land uses within limits. One of the outcomes of the Land & Water Forum was that the primary sector should be operating at good management practice (GMP). Focusing on nutrient losses rather than inputs is fundamental to managing within limits.

The purpose of the Matrix of Good Management (MGM) project is to produce industry-articulated GMPs and a set of estimates of nitrogen and phosphorus losses from farms across the range of soils, climates and land uses, operating at GMP.  MGM outputs will be a table of numbers including factors such as soil, climate and farm systems. Combinations of these factors will generate values for drainage below the root zone and nitrogen and phosphorus losses.

In the guide launched today, the primary industries have articulated their vision of GMP. This information, and current practice information, is being modelled using OVERSEER®.

Farmers can compare their nutrient losses, using OVERSEER®, against MGM values, and their practices against agreed GMPs. Zone committees and local communities can use MGM data to inform/test solutions for their areas. Environment Canterbury can use the information in modelling and testing nutrient loads in any catchment.

Primary Sector Agrees Good Management Practices for Farmers

Posted by | News

Retrieved from

Joint statement from: DairyNZ, Horticulture New Zealand, Foundation for Arable Research, New Zealand Pork, Beef and Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers, IrrigationNZ and Deer Industry NZ.

New Zealand’s primary industries are launching a new set of definitions for Good Management Practice relating to water quality tonight (28/05/2015) at Lincoln University.

The document is the result of collaboration between the primary industries, Environment Canterbury and three Crown Research Institutes (AgResearch, Plant and Food Research and Landcare Research). It is a key part of the Matrix of Good Management (MGM) project which is being developed for the Canterbury region.

Federated Farmers’ environment spokesperson Ian Mackenzie who is a member of the cross-sector governance group for the Canterbury MGM project, says the New Zealand public’s concern about water quality and environmental stewardship has made it imperative for farmers to show they are getting land, plant and nutrient management right.

He says this has been defined by a range of primary sector industry groups as “good management practice” in a summary that is “the first of its kind”. “This document goes beyond a list of practices that are good for water quality and outlines a suite of good management practices that all farmers, regardless of sector, are expected to achieve.
“As a first step to get all farmers up to a high standard of environmental awareness, we needed to agree as a sector what good management practice looks like. We have to involve farmers in that process to help us define that in very practical terms. We are now well on the way to getting industry-wide agreement on what ‘good’ looks like in terms of farming that protects water quality.”

Mr Mackenzie says the good management practices detailed in the new document are a comprehensive list of the outcomes that all farmers, wherever they are in New Zealand, could reasonably be expected to achieve.  
“The summary has been prepared over the past 18 months with discussions at farmer workshops and with individual farmers, rural professionals and industry representatives. We’ve tested this with different groups including leading farmers to make sure it’s practical and doable. We want to get some consistency in everyone’s approach to this multi-dimensional topic.

“It’s tough for farmers if they keep getting mixed or confused messages from different bodies. We hope this document will give farmers some certainty on what they need to concentrate on to lift environmental performance. The public can also see the kind of responsible farming practices that are needed to protect water quality,” he says. “This will be an evolving suite of tools and practical measures that the industry can develop as we learn new practices and science.”

Two examples of the good management practices listed in the new guide include:

–  Locate and manage farm tracks, gateways, water troughs, self-feeding areas, stock camps, wallows and other sources of run-off to minimise risks to water quality.
–  Manage the amount and timing of fertiliser inputs, taking account of all sources of nutrients, to match plant requirements and minimise risk of losses.

Mr Mackenzie says the summary has been approved by a cross-sector governance stakeholder group, which includes senior representatives from industry, government and the community.
“The details on how exactly the good management practices will be used and reflected in council plans and policies are still being worked through with everyone. However their successful uptake will need to be underpinned by industry extension programmes for farmers and supported by farm environment plans,” he says.

To view the summary of good management practices, visit

aa Crane at PS DSC_6155

Power Station Out of Service for Transformer Refurbishment

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The Power Station at Opuha Dam is currently out of service on an extended maintenance outage after tests on the main transformer revealed high moisture levels. The transformer has been removed from the site (see photo) to undergo repair and refurbishment at Trustpower’s Highbank Power Station near Methven. It is anticipated the transformer work will be completed in approximately four weeks.  

Nutrient Loss Measurement Tool Upgrade Welcomed

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Retrieved from

Environment Canterbury today welcomed the recent upgrade to the nutrient loss measurement tool, OVERSEER®.

Chief Executive Bill Bayfield said improvements to the irrigation component of OVERSEER® would highlight the significant gains to be made from enhancements to irrigation efficiency.  “It is important to note, however, that while the improvements introduced by OVERSEER® 6.2 will change estimated nutrient loss numbers they will not change the reality with regard to actual nutrient losses,” Mr Bayfield said.

Environment Canterbury is working to help make sure decision-makers are provided with options for dealing with OVERSEER® version changes. “We are committed to working with other councils, the owners of OVERSEER® and industry in seeking solutions to these challenges,” Bill Bayfield said. A plan change later in 2015 will help address them.

“Environment Canterbury wishes to ensure that the focus is on good management practices by farmers and nutrient outputs,” Mr Bayfield said. “OVERSEER® provides a method of benchmarking against good management practices. Its strength is the way it can be used in a relative rather than an absolute way. Our challenge is to develop policy that allows for this.”

Environment Canterbury has moved to assure farmers who have made investment decisions based on previous versions of OVERSEER® that they would not be disadvantaged as a result of these changes.

“The planning framework for land use and water quality interactions is based on management of nutrient outputs rather than inputs,” Bill Bayfield said. “Landowners have maximum freedom to decide how best to manage their land to minimise nutrient losses. This approach, which is of benefit both to farmers and to water quality outcomes, will not change with a new version of the measurement tool.
“It is not Environment Canterbury’s intention to immediately require more farmers to get a consent to farm just because of an OVERSEER® upgrade,” Mr Bayfield concluded. “We will work with individual farmers, industry bodies and zone committees to focus on achieving the outcomes anticipated when the proposed Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan was drafted.”

For more information on OVERSEER®, go to, or

For information on the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan, go to

OVERSEER® is the management tool that has been selected for estimating nutrient losses from a farming activity under the proposed Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan.
The OVERSEER® model requires users to enter information about their farming system, such as production, location and soil types.
Based on this information, a nutrient budget is prepared which estimates the long-term average nitrogen loss from a property. 
A nutrient budget is prepared for both the “nitrogen baseline” period (1 July 2009 – 30 June 2013), and the most recent four-year period (the nitrogen loss calculation period). 
Once these budgets have been prepared, the results should be compared against the rules in the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan to determine whether a farming activity is permitted or requires a consent. 
When updates to the OVERSEER® model are made, the most recent version must be used to calculate the nitrogen baseline and nitrogen loss.
Farmers should retain all the farm information/data used to prepare the original nutrient budget because this will be needed to prepare future budgets.