Regulations for freshwater farm plans

Under development
This regulation is not finalised or in effect.

The Government is introducing mandatory and enforceable freshwater modules of farm plans. They are an  important part of the Essential Freshwater policy package.

Lead agency



The freshwater farm plan regulations are expected to take effect in 2023.

Requirements will be set out

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

It is likely that the freshwater farm plan modules will need to include a:

  • farm map identifying features such as waterways, critical source (discharge of contaminant) areas, high erosion-prone areas and other risks to the health of the freshwater ecosystem
  • risk assessment across specific activities including irrigation, application of nutrients and effluent, winter grazing, stock-holding areas, stock exclusion, offal pits, and farm rubbish pits
  • schedule of actions to manage identified features and address identified risks.

Freshwater farm plans will need to be:

  • approved by a suitably qualified and experienced person
  • audited by independent auditors
  • enforced by regional councils.

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