Stuff reports that a new survey by Water New Zealand shows the majority of survey participants want farmers to be charged for taking water from the environment.
N.B. AgriViewNZ has reviewed the survey data and has edited the Stuff article to better reflect the responses of participants.
The survey, which mainly focused on the quality of delivery of water supplies, water services management by local authorities and other suppliers and water use also included 2 questions on payment for water by agricultural users and bottled water suppliers.
Who should pay for water has been a flash point for voters ahead of Saturday's election, with farmers protesting Labour's proposed water tax.
The results of the Water New Zealand survey show the majority of participants want commercial water users to be charged, and are concerned about the quality of waterways.
Seventy seven per cent of those surveyed said agriculture and horticulture users should pay for water, as did 77 per cent of participants living in rural communities.
Fifty nine per cent of respondents said that all water users should pay, and 42 per cent of respondents thought they were already paying for water use.
A clear majority, 89 per cent, thought bottled water companies and similar industries should pay.
"Interestingly, these responses are consistent across city, regional and rural regions," Water New Zealand said in the survey report, released on Wednesday.
The survey asked 4500 participants a series of 31 questions from May 1 to June 16, 2017.
Respondents were predominantly city dwellers, 73 per cent, a fifth lived in rural communities, 20 per cent, and the minority in regional towns, seven per cent.
There is no charge for the physical resource of water in New Zealand, though local councils can bill residents water rates to cover the cost of water infrastructure.
There was also a strong response to water quality, with 89 per cent concerned about their drinking water.
Three in every four people were concerned about pollution, compared to only two per cent who ticked "unsure".
Litter and floating plastics were of the most concern, at 63 per cent, followed by sewage over flows, at 53 per cent.
Water New Zealand acknowledged in the report that charging for commercial water is a controversial issue.
It's also been a campaign issue in the run up to the election.
Labour has proposed a tax on irrigated water of 1 to 2 cents per 1000 litres, and a charge of "a few cents" per litre for water bottlers.