New Zealand's bottled water exports have skyrocketed in the last year, up more than 270 per cent - most of which is heading to China.
The figures from Stats NZ come as the Government struggles to decide whether to charge a royalty on bottled water.
In September 2018, New Zealand was sending 31.5 million litres overseas (valued at $26 million) and in 2019 it jumped to almost 118 million litres (valued at $62 million).
Aotearoa Water Action's Nikki Glading said it was "a lot of our best, clean water, it's also an awful lot of plastic bottles".
"We're no longer seeing little small plants operating locally, we're seeing large plants that have massive investment from overseas."
The bottled water industry has sparked vigorous public protest and has forced strong political debate.
Overseas interest in New Zealand's bottled water is expanding, with the bulk of exports heading to China, followed by the US.
Yesterday, it was announced new rules around water bottling will see an extra hoop to jump through for overseas investors.
Environment Minister David Parker said the Government will now "require consideration of the impact on water quality and sustainability of a water bottling enterprise, when assessing an investment in sensitive land".
It will look at the positive and negative impacts on water quality and sustainability. The Government is still looking at whether to put royalties on bottled water exports.
Labour, NZ First and the Green Party promised action on water bottling and is written into the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement to introduce a royalty. However, two years on the detail is still being debated.
National leader Simon Bridges called it a broken promise.
"This is just another area where they've failed miserably to deliver on their promises."
Mr Parker said there were complications around royalties, "Māori rights and interests and some other issues which we're trying to work through".
Another option could include a fee on a containers, but opponents say such a move could drive demand.
"What that creates is a revenue stream which is going to incentivise those consents to be granted," Ms Glading said.