Social participation in water management and governance recently became a reality in many economies and societies. Yet the dimensions in which power regulation, social equity and democracy-building are connected with participation have been only tangentially analyzed for the water sector. Understanding the growing interest in social participation involves appreciating the specificity of the contemporary period within its historic and geographic contexts as well as uncovering larger political, economic and cultural trends of recent decades which frame participatory actions. Within a wide variety of cases presented from around the world, the reader will find critical analyses of participation and an array of political ecological processes that influence water governance. Sixteen chapters from a diverse group of scholars and practitioners examine water rights definition, hydropower dam construction, urban river renewal, irrigation organizations, water development NGOs, river basin management, water policy implementation and judicial decision-making in water conflicts. Yet there are commonalities in participatory experiences across this spectrum of water issues. The book's five sections highlight key dimensions of contemporary water management that influence, and in turn are influenced by, social participation. These sections are: participation and indigenous water governance; participation and the dynamics of gender in water management; participation and river basin governance; participation and implementation of water management and participation and the politics of water governance.