There is widespread agreement that integrated water resources management (IWRM) is an imperative for sustainable development (Young et al. 1994; Mitchell and Shrubsole 1997; Gleick, 2000). Although the fundamental importance of water for human advancement and ecological maintenance is now generally acknowledged, most societies have only recently attempted to move away from the dominant water management paradigm that emerged in the twentieth century whereby available water resources were exploited for development purposes with little appreciation of their economic value or the long-term impacts of heavy river engineering on the environment. Consequently, continued growth in water consumption was often left unchecked. As a further consequence of this previous paradigm, ecologically important and aesthetically attractive waterside environments effectively ‘disappeared’ from the urban landscape, as communities turned their backs on polluted and degraded streams and rivers. IWRM seeks to correct some of the imbalances and mistakes of the past and to ensure that policies, plans and projects for water are coordinated with those for other resources within an overall river basin development framework.