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How to Apply for a Water Take Consent

Now you’ve found out that you need a resource consent to take water (see our previous blog), you’ll need to put together a consent application. The scale and nature of your proposed activity will determine how comprehensive the application will need to be.

Where to Begin

Before you start, you’ll need to gather as much base information as you can to provide a description of the activity, including:

  • contact details
  • property location and map
  • what you are applying for (eg irrigation, frost protection, stock drinking water etc)
  • bore number (ground water) or water body used (surface water)
  • area of the activity
  • crop type
  • soil type
  • catchment etc

The more information you can provide that describes what you want to do, how you plan to do it, and where you want to do it, the easier it will be for the Council to understand your proposal and process your application (and the less questions they have to ask you).

If you don’t provide the necessary details it may hold up processing your application.

Application Forms

Most Councils will have an on-line link on their website to download the application forms for your relevant activity.

They may also offer some free advice time for your resource consent application. Once you know the details of your proposal you can contact them to organise a meeting with the Duty Consents Planner to discuss.

Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE)

An AEE is a comprehensive written assessment of the effects your proposed activity will have on the environment and cultural values of the area. The effects will be dependent on your proposed activity. The Council needs you to provide an assessment of the effects so that they can assess the impact of your activity, whether it’s a short-term or long-term, or has a negative or positive effect.

For example, if you are taking groundwater from a bore, you will need to consider if other bore users in the area are likely to be affected by your water take, or whether there will be an effect on streams or rivers.

The AEE will also assess your proposal against the relevant legislative requirements and determine whether you are able to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects of your activity on the environment. It may be beneficial to engage a consultant to prepare the assessment of effects for you.

Generally, your AEE should include the following:

  1. A description of your proposed activity
  2. An assessment of the actual and potential effects on the environment of your activity
  3. Where the above effects are likely to be significant, a description of available alternatives
  4. A description of how the adverse effects may be avoided, remedied or mitigated and whether monitoring and reporting will be required
  5. Identification of the persons affected by the proposal, the consultation undertaken, if any, and any response to the views of any person consulted
  6. Where specialist knowledge is required to support your AEE, you may need assessments and reports from an Ecologist, Hydrogeologist (pump test report) or other specialists.

Consulting with Affected Parties

You will need to consult with anyone who is potentially adversely affected by your proposed activity. For a water take this may include:

  • Owners, occupiers and users of adjacent and nearby land
  • Downstream water users
  • Users of the same groundwater resource
  • Tangata whenua
  • Department of Conservation
  • Fish & Game.

Contact your local Council and ask them to provide details of who you should consult with regarding your proposal. They will provide you with a list of contact details for people and agencies you will need to consult with.


The Council have 20 working days to process your consent application – during this time they will review and assess your application and come back to you with any questions they may have. When the Council requests something from you the processing timeframe may be stopped and restarted again once you respond.

Your application may be rejected if it is incomplete, or missing a major part of the assessment of effects they can return it to you within 10 working days. That’s why it’s so important to provide as much information as you can from the get-go.


The Council will also assess whether there are any affected parties and the extent to which they are affected. This may be as simple as asking your neighbour to give their written approval through to a full publicly notified consent, where the council will notify the public about the application and ask for submissions. The scale and complexity of the application and the severity of the potential effects will determine whether or not the application will need to be notified and to what extent.

MfE AEE Guide

Jessica Hunter – Environmental Consultant