The earthquake that hit the Noto Peninsula in January has exposed the frailty of the nation’s water supply system, with many pipes over half a century old and not quake-proof.

The magnitude 7.6 jolt and land uplift damaged pipes and water treatment plants in dozens of municipalities in the Hokuriku region, leaving up to 135,000 households without running water at one point.

Nearly 22,000 homes in seven municipalities in Ishikawa Prefecture are still without water, and the ongoing shortage has sparked debate on how to restore and maintain water and sewage services in depopulating communities across Japan, especially in preparation for another "Big One."