Overseer review

Updated: 14 September 2021

Overseer is a tool to model nutrient losses from land which is used in a variety of ways by regulators and others. Recently the Government released a review of the tool. Find out how this may affect the way we manage water quality.

Overseer is one of the few ways that nutrient losses from land can be estimated, meaning it is a significant way of managing water quality.

Our Resource Management Act plans and consents use Overseer as a method, alongside farm environment plans and independent audits, to maintain or improve water quality by minimising nitrate-nitrogen losses.

Overseer is used in Canterbury in several ways:

However, it is not the only way we manage nutrient losses in Canterbury.

There are nearly 3900 farm accounts in Canterbury, nearly half of the national total of 8000 registered users.

Our approach

We will take the time to consider the review and the Government’s response to it before making decisions. We are communicating with mana whenua and our various stakeholders who may be affected.

What areas will the review affect?

How will the review impact plans?

We will take the time to consider the review before we will be in a position to understand the implications. We will then be in touch with potentially affected stakeholders.

Proposed Plan Change 7 (PC7) to the Land & Water Regional Plan and Plan Change 2 to the Waimakariri River Regional Plan (PC2) are nearing the end of the Resource Management Act process.

We want to understand the Overseer review outcome before Council makes a decision on whether to accept the PC7 and PC2 hearing commissioners’ recommendations as its own.

Council has applied to the Minister for the Environment for an extension to the timeframe for it to make its decision.

How will it affect consents?

We will take the time to consider the review before making decisions. We will not put consent applications on hold.

We will continue working with current consent holders and new applicants and their advisors. We need to ensure that consent holders are, at a minimum, operating at or better than industry-agreed Good Management Practice.

How will the review impact Farm Environment Plan audits?

We have temporarily paused FEP audits for farming land use consents while we consider the review.

See the letter sent to consent holders (PDF file, 31.38KB) with audits coming up.

Audits are a high-priority activity because they measure farm environment plan performance, so we are looking to start these again as soon as we can.

How will it affect compliance monitoring and enforcement?
We will take the time to consider the review before making decisions. Compliance monitoring and enforcement is always a top priority for us.
How will it impact irrigation schemes?
We will take the time to consider the review before making decisions. We will continue to focus on a robust approach to ensure that the effects of land use by irrigation schemes are well managed.
What will the changes cost?
It is too early to say. Once we have considered the review and decisions have been made, the potential cost – to both us and to the community – will become clearer.