Regional rules

All farms that apply wastewater to land must comply with the permitted activity criteria for farm wastewater disposal. The permitted activity rules are covered in C.6.3 of the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland.

Permitted Activity rules refer to wastewater from:

  • Dairies and adjacent entrance and exit races;
  • Dairy yards;
  • Stock holding yards;
  • Feed pads;
  • Stand-off pads;
  • Loafing pads;
  • Wintering barns;
  • Piggeries;
  • Poultry farms;
  • Stock underpasses;
  • Sale yards; and
  • Transit races (if used for stand-off and the like).

Rule C.6.3.2/3/4 also covers the making of silage, disposal of dead stock and the disposal of produce.

Key points: Permitted Activity (land application)

There must be no discharge:

  • Into surface water, the coastal marine area or artificial watercourse;
  • Via overland flow;
  • Via any tile, mole or other subsurface drain; and

Farm wastewater must not be discharged to land within a distance of:

  • 20 metres of any waterway;
  • 20 metres of any artificial watercourse;
  • 20 metres of any water supply bore;
  • 20 metres from neighbouring properties without the property owner's written permission;
  • 50 metres of any occupied dwelling; and
  • 50m of a water body for a distance of 2km upstream of a public water supply intake servicing more than 25 people.


  • Contingency measures must be in place to ensure no rules are broken due to equipment failure and when ground and/or weather conditions are unsuitable for application.
  • Any effluent storage or effluent treatment facilities must be sealed or lined with low permeability material to ensure there is no more than minor groundwater contamination through seepage.
  • There must be no ponding on the land surface for more than three hours after application.

Wastewater must be applied in a manner that:

  • Evenly distributes the wastewater;
  • Does not exceed the soil's ability to assimilate the wastewater;
  • Minimises overland flow; and
  • Does not cause overland flow into setback distances, watercourses etc.


  • Roof water must be permanently diverted away from the wastewater system - unless the ponds are sized to accommodate;
  • Catchment stormwater must be diverted away from the wastewater system;
  • A diversion system must be maintained and operated for the yard to prevent stormwater entering the wastewater system when the yard is clean (and not in use), unless sized to accommodate.

Wastewater Ponds:

Must be designed, constructed and sized in accordance with - but not limited to: estimated wastewater volumes, herd size, and local average rainfall.

Working Volume:

Farm wastewater storage facilities must have at least 75% working volume available between March-May. It is strongly recommended that ponds are at or near empty by 1 May each year.

Prohibited activities:

  • No discharge of untreated effluent/wastewater to water; and
  • The discharge of treated farm wastewater into any dune lake or any watercourse flowing into any dune lake listed in Schedule E of the water and soil plan or any river, section of river or lake deemed to have outstanding value is a Prohibited Activity.

Compliance with the permitted activity rules can be achieved when:

  • There is adequate contingency storage;
  • Ponds are at or near empty prior to winter;
  • Irrigators are well maintained and managed; and
  • Wastewater is applied evenly to land when conditions are suitable.

Section 15(1)(b) of the Resource Management Act 1991 also states that:

No person may discharge any contaminant to water or to land in circumstances which may result in that contaminant entering water; unless the discharge is expressly allowed by a national environmental standard, resource consent or regional rule.

Non-Complying Activities require Resource Consent:

Any system which may discharge treated wastewater to water is now a non-complying activity and requires application for resource consent. Any system which cannot consistently comply with the permitted activity criteria (Rule 16.1) also requires application for resource consent.

Any consent to discharge treated wastewater to water is issued with specific conditions relating to:

  • Cow numbers and milking regimes;
  • Stormwater control;
  • Adequacy of treatment;
  • System maintenance and management; and
  • The quality of any discharge and the effects of the discharge on the receiving waters.

Find an overview of council's farm wastewater monitoring programme.

Need a resource consent?

If you think you may require resource consent, please contact a member of the council's Farm Monitoring team for advice on:
0800 002 004