Health authorities in Canterbury insist using water intended for farm animals as a back-up drinking water supply is safe.
The bore in the town of Mayfield is close to running dry after three consecutive winters of low rainfall and the Ashburton District Council has hired a portable water treatment plant to allow it to use a water race.
The race is also used by farm animals.
The plan has outraged Mayfield resident Deborah Manhire, who said the shortage had been created by dairy farmers taking too much ground water.
Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty said the council needed to stop putting commercial interests ahead of residents.
She pointed to the proposed sale of rights to a water bottling company to take water from an Ashburton bore and the over-allocation of water to dairy farms.
A moratorium was needed on any further dairy farm conversions in New Zealand, she said.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey said Ms Manhire had nothing to worry about as the water would be treated and tested to ensure it was safe.
He said the tests would include one for the nitrates produced by farm animals.
The council had earlier said that, although the race was intended for farm animals, the treatment plant would ensure the water was safe and clean for residents to drink.
It said it was keeping an eye on bores supplying a further two towns in case they needed to be switched to water races as well.