Four of every five Kiwis want stricter water pollution rules - survey

A new survey has revealed 80 percent of Kiwis want stricter rules to protect the country's rivers, lakes and waterways from pollution.

The findings are revealed in a nationwide poll conducted in December for Fish and Game New Zealand by Colmar Brunton.

Fish and Game chief executive Martin Taylor says the results are a wake-up call for agriculture leaders and local government.

"It shows that New Zealanders are ready for regulation to stop the degradation of waterways in New Zealand," he says.

"It's a really positive outcome, it shows that Kiwis are behind all plans to change the situation."

Fish and Game wants mandatory environmental standards introduced for all waterways.

"What we'd like to see is hard bottom lines for nitrogen, sediment and E coli so that it's safe to swim and collect food from our waterways," Mr Taylor says. "That's not too much to ask."

According to freshwater scientist Dr Mike Joy, public interest is crucial if changes Fish and Game are calling for are to become a reality.

"Nothing will change - the Government won't change, local government won't change - unless there's pressure from the public to change," he says.

And he might get his wish. The results come ahead of the Crux Water forum in Queenstown on Monday night, focusing on water quality in the region.

Already a popular swimming spot - Queenstown Bay in Lake Wakatipu - has been closed for a day this summer after high levels of E coli were found. The lake is a key talking point at tonight's forum.

"It's a pristine lake and people are really concerned about the level of development - and people getting sick going swimming, for a start, is a big worry for people," Mr Joy says.

They're water quality worries that are expected to be laid bare tonight in Queenstown, in one of the most popular tourist spots in the country.