Irresponsible water bottling companies and irrigating farmers who rely on underground freshwater aquifers are being eyed up by the Green Party.
Co-leader James Shaw is promising a crackdown on intensive aquifer users by giving the underground water sources greater legal protection if the Greens are elected to Government.
"Protecting our fresh water is something so basic that we've taken it for granted. We can no longer be complacent," he says.
He's launched a Private Member's Bill in the name of his MP Catherine Delahunty that adds a "clean groundwater" amendment to the Resource Management Act, making it a "matter of national importance".
"Taking too much water from aquifers for private commercial uses such as irrigation and water bottling has become an issue of increasing public concern," says Mr Shaw.
He says the flow-on effects of aquifer depletion are huge - with many spring-fed rivers and water holes in Canterbury especially, drying up into "puddles of algae".
The proposal will see tougher hurdles and mitigation measures for commercial users and farmers wanting to take water from aquifers.
"Companies are bottling and exporting our freshwater, without paying for it. While at the same time, communities are on water restrictions and boil notices."