10. Surface Water Quantity

A Northland lake.


RPS Objectives

· The maintenance of the flows and levels in significant streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands to preserve their natural character and to protect high ecological, cultural or scenic values.

· The maintenance of water flows and levels in natural water bodies that are sufficient to preserve their life-supporting capacity, natural character, intrinsic values and associated or dependent values.

· The efficient use and conservation of water resources.

· To protect property and other values from adverse effects due to the diversion of water from its natural drainage pattern.


· Northland's water resources are under increasing pressures to meet demands from a variety of consumptive users – including agriculture, horticulture, public and private water supply and industry sectors and the effects of land use change.

· Surface water takes, both consented and permitted, affect water flows. There is an increase in the number of permitted takes in Northland, as well as a large number of ‘permitted' takes that are likely to exceed the volume allowed in the permitted activity rules.

· Currently there are 381 consents allocated up to 500,000 m3/day of water from streams, rivers and dams in Northland (excluding diversions). A review of consented water takes indicates many catchments in central and southern areas of Northland are highly allocated.


· Annual rainfall ranges from 900mm in low-lying coastal areas to over 2,900mm at higher altitudes.

· Flows vary greatly between catchments, which can be largely attributed to rainfall patterns, catchment size and catchment geology. In Northland, catchment geology greatly influences low flows during drought conditions.

· Northland's climate is such that it will experience a regional drought, on average, once every three years at east coast and inland locations, and once every four years at west coast and high altitude locations.

Doing well

· The Regional Water and Soil Plan contains policies relating to the maintenance of flows and levels in water bodies.

· The Northland Regional Council (NRC) operates a hydrometric network consisting of 60 sites throughout Northland, which collects continuous data for 30 river level sites, six tidal monitoring sites and 24 rainfall sites.

· During periods of drought, water levels are monitored and when a low threshold is reached a low flow-gauging programme is undertaken in affected rivers. The NRC holds more than 11,700 flow-gauging records for 1,503 Northland sites.

· New flow measuring equipment, an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler has improved the council's ability to gather more accurate information on Northland rivers, in both low flow and flood conditions.

Areas for improvement

· Ensure accurate water metering of consented takes and water use analysis to enable a better understanding of the volume of water abstracted within catchments and the effects on water resources.

· Encourage all water users to register their ‘permitted takes' with the Council to enable greater understanding of the ‘actual' water taken in catchments.

· Establish design minimum flows (minimum flow required to be maintained) for a greater number of catchments.

· Include in Northland's plans maximum total volumes allocatable for water bodies in Northland, to provide water use securities for users and sustainable allocation of water resources. Also include rules to ensure assessment of cumulative effects of subdivision on water resources.

The Northland Regional Council has responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA 1991) to control water use, and to monitor the level and flow of water bodies....
Demand for surface water Northland's water resources are under increasing pressure to meet demands from a variety of consumptive users. These users include the agriculture,...
Rainfall Northland's rainfall distribution pattern results from the region's narrow shape and topography. Northland is 260 kilometres long, extends in a north-westerly direction...
Policy documents The Regional Policy Statement for Northland (NRC 2002a) sets out to provide an overview of the resource management issues of the region, and contains policies and...
The following are areas that are currently not being addressed, which will be looked at in more detail in the future: · Ensure accurate water metering of consented takes and water...
You can help the council better manage Northland's water resources by registering your "permitted" take with the Council. This helps the Council to sustainably manage water...
On Tuesday 27 March at 11.10 am the MetService issued a Severe Weather Watch for Northland. This indicated the development of a low pressure system in the northern Tasman blocked...
Background The Mangamuka range has 20,000ha of catchment that drains towards Kaitaia through three rivers: Takahue, Victoria and Fairburn. These three rivers join to form the...
NRC. 2002a. Regional Policy Statement for Northland. Produced by the Northland Regional Council. Whangarei: New Zealand. NRC. 2002b. State of the Environment Report. Published by...
This information is available as a .pdf file only. Download the Surface Water Quantity - Appendices  (254 KB)