The majority of New Zealanders want farmers to be charged for water use, a new survey shows.
The nationwide survey, carried out by Water New Zealand (WNZ), polled 4500 people in May and June this year, and sought to gauge what Kiwis think about issues associated with water use.
It has become a highly debated political topic, with farmers recently protesting a proposed tax by Labour on water usage.
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WNZ chief executive John Pfahlert said the majority of respondents to the survey were concerned about poor water quality in New Zealand.
"People understand how extraction, climate issues and pollution are impacting on our water resources and the quality of waterways," he said.
Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed want commercial water users - such as water bottlers - to be charged, while 77 percent said agriculture and horticulture users should pay for water.
One in three respondents are uncertain that drinking water providers adequately plan for the future.
Fifty-nine percent of all respondents said all water users should pay.
In response, Federated Farmers is repeating its call that no one in New Zealand pays for water.
"All we pay for in New Zealand is the right to access the water and to cover the cost of [its delivery]," the organisation's spokesman Chris Allen says.
"In this election campaign, politicians are attempting to brainwash Kiwis into thinking farmers are getting something for free that others pay for. They aren't.
"Water. Nobody pays for it."
The survey responses were consistent across city, regional and rural areas, Mr Pfahlert said.
"The survey aims to provide water service providers, including local and central government, with a deeper understanding of customers' views and understanding of water issues.
"This will help the development of relevant and sustainable policies around water," he said.