Setting limits

Setting limits for water quality and quantity is one of the requirements for all regional councils under the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. Limits include restricting the amount of contaminants that can be discharged into waterways and how much water can be removed (extracted). The limit setting process is the third main component of our Water and Land 2020 & Beyond project.

What are the benefits of limit setting?

Without changing how we manage our water and land, we will not meet our community’s goals and aspirations for water, nor will we meet our requirements to maintain and improve water quality.

  • Limiting extraction (how much water we take) – ensures we have enough freshwater for Southland’s short- and long-term needs.
  • Limiting contaminants entering waterways – ensures the long-term ‘health’ and usability of our water.

As a region we rely on good water being in plentiful supply. Limit setting ensures we have a long-term approach to looking after our water in terms of both quality and quantity.

How do we set limits?

A limit setting process has five steps. Learn more about them here.

This process will incorporate the outcomes from discussions with our communities, as well as findings from our extensive research programme. More information on our research behind managing our freshwater systems and the economic impacts of limit setting in Southland will be available here soon.


The limit setting process is due to be completed for Southland catchments by 2021. We’ll start the limit setting process on a catchment by catchment basis as set out below:

  • Fiordland: 2016
  • Stewart Island: 2016
  • Aparima: 2017
  • Mataura: 2017
  • Oreti: 2018
  • Waiau: 2018

Read more in the 'Progressive Implementation Plan', which was adopted by Council in November 2015.

Do you have a say in the limit setting process?

Everyone in Southland will be affected by the changes that are required. We will all (urban and rural alike) need to “give a little to gain a little” to achieve catchment limits over time.

Have your say! Community conversations about catchment limits will start late-2016..

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