A recent report shows not always having access to safe drinking water is the number one infrastructure concern for New Zealanders.
The Aotearoa 2050 report from the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga received more than 23,000 responses with four out of five New Zealanders wanting increased investment in water infrastructure.
The report comes after more than 5000 people fell ill, following the confirmation of the presence of E.coli in Havelock North's water supply in 2016.
Four deaths were linked to the contamination.
Mike Glover lives in rural Canterbury and stopped drinking from the local supply of water two years ago after unsafe nitrate levels were discovered.
"You don't have any choice with water. You have to have water. If your water quality is out of your control, it's no surprise people get upset because it's such an essential element of our lives," Glover said.
"For rural people we can't really build our infrastructure. If authorities have allowed the water to get as bad as it has perhaps, they need to provide clean water to rural communities.
"Leaving it to people to do it all themselves it's expensive, stressful and it's not fair on people."
Thirty-two permanent boil-water notices were issued between 2018 and 2019 affecting more than 9000 people.
The Government is in the middle of reforming local government's three waters services into a small number of multi-regional entities.
Decades of underinvestment in water infrastructure resulted in estimates of up to $185 billion needed for pipes across the country over the next 30 years.
Senior research fellow at Victoria University Mike Joy has been researching fresh water for years and said people were more aware of the issues around water infrastructure.
"In Wellington, we have the streets exploding with sewage because of the worn-out infrastructure. I think it's just much more in people's minds now because they can actually see it happening."
Joy didn't believe increased water infrastructure spending would be the silver bullet people think it is.
Wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the local rivers have never complied with its consent conditions around water quality, Joy said.
"The owner and operator of the wastewater treatment plants continually don't meet those standards. The punishment for not meeting those standards is a sad face stamp," Joy said.
Government's lack of enforced regulations around fresh water quality combined with increased population and a lack of spending to upgrade infrastructure to match the population has made a perfect storm, he said.
"It's government after government coming along and nobody wants to take on these issues. If people are saying this is their number one issue maybe that will change," Joy said.
Government is in the last stages of developing its infrastructure strategy with public consultation on the Infrastructure for a Better Future consultation document closing on July 2.