This chapter explores ideas about ‘good’ water management in cities, and how these have changed through time. Visions of good water management are very important not only because they guide what is designed and built, but also because they influence what institutions are formed for managing the water, and what water-use practices are expected of and communicated to the public. Urban water management in the industrialised world has long been seen as a technical process associated with pipes and bureaucracies. The technocratic model’s impact on the individual household is interesting. Clearly, potable water supply, flood defence and waste water disposal has saved the arduous labour or costs of transporting water, reduced health risk, ensured a pleasant urban environment and reduced vulnerability to extreme weather events. Progressive water managers have proposed concepts, policies and practices to address perceived failures of the technocratic model.