The upper Waitaki Basin could have an influx of more than 22,000 dairy cows, if resource consent applications for dairy effluent discharges are granted there.
Canterbury Regional Council has approved two consent applications for more than 3000 new cows on two farms near Lake Ruataniwha, owned by Douglas MacIntyre.
Four pending applications relate to 17 separate farms and 19,000 cows.
The farms are in the Omarama, Ohau and Benmore areas.
The applications will be subject to public consultation before any final decisions are made.