Major political parties say water management will be one of the big issues for rural voters in November's general election and their campaigns will reflect that.
The National-led Government is keen to tap into the economic potential from increased irrigation and water storage.
Labour says water needs to be better managed and the Green party also wants more regulation to protect water quality.
Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills agrees that water issues are high on the agenda for rural voters, with water and agriculture's impact on the environment the two topics that have been taking up much of his time since he took on the job three months ago.
He says he is firmly of the view that New Zealand agriculture can continue to grow and become more profitable while in tandem using sensible science and research and development to better manage farming's footprint on the environment.
He says he sometimes gets "grumpy" because farmers always under the spotlight.
"Sure there area handful that don''t pull their weight and we have no hesitation in asking those guys to pull their socks up because they're letting down 90 to 95% of landowners that I see are doing a pretty good job."