Freshwater farm plans regulations 2023

These regulations set out further obligations for the preparation, certification, audit, and enforcement of freshwater farm plans under Part 9A of the Resource Management Act 1991.

Freshwater Farm Plans are a core part of the Essential Freshwater package.

Lead agency

Ministry for the Environment

Full text


The freshwater farm plan regulations are expected to take effect from 1 August 2023 in selected regions.


Freshwater Farm Plans will help protect and restore New Zealand’s freshwater by assessing each farm’s potential impact on freshwater and developing a tailored set of actions to address these, in light of the catchment in which each farm sits.

We encourage those who manage or work on farms to understand how the freshwater farm plan system will affect them.


The new regulations set out requirements for freshwater farm plans and timeframes for when these plans are required.

Freshwater farm plans will need to include:

  • farm maps identifying features such as waterways, critical source (discharge of contaminant) areas, and other risks to freshwater and freshwater ecosystems
  • a risk assessment across farming and growing activities such as  irrigation, application of nutrients and effluent, winter grazing, stock-holding areas, stock exclusion, offal pits, and farm rubbish pits
  • a schedule of actions to manage identified features and address identified risks.

Freshwater farm plans will need to be:

  • certified by a freshwater farm plan certifier appointed by the relevant regional council 
  • audited by a freshwater farm plan auditor
  • enforced by regional councils.

Freshwater farm plans will be required on farms with 20 or more hectares in arable or pastoral land use, or five or more hectares in horticultural land use, or 20 hectares of mixed use.