In the last three years, fresh water has surged up the national policy agenda. It is no longer a partisan issue: 82% of New Zealanders now say they are extremely or very concerned about the state of New Zealand’s waterways. As our population and economy expand, the need and demand for water will continue to increase, and so will competition. Climate change will only exacerbate this as water variability and the frequency of extreme weather events intensify. This issue of Policy Quarterly serves as a checkpoint for how far we’ve come and where we could go. There can be no debate that designing and implementing dynamic policy that prioritises governance and incentivises behaviour change is a prerequisite for a sustainable and secure future for New Zealand.