Water resources management approaches around the world are changing dramatically. This changing water paradigm has many components, including a shift away from sole, or even primary, reliance on finding new sources of supply to address perceived new demands, a growing emphasis on incorporating ecological values into water policy, a re-emphasis on meeting basic human needs for water services, and a conscious breaking of the ties between economic growth and water use. A reliance on physical solutions continues to dominate traditional planning approaches, but these solutions are facing increasing opposition. At the same time, new methods are being developed to meet the demands of growing populations without requiring major new construction or new large-scale water transfers from one region to another. More and more water suppliers and planning agencies are beginning to explore efficiency improvements, implement options for managing demand, and reallocating water among users to reduce projected gaps and meet future needs. The connections between water and food are receiving increasing attention as the concerns of food experts begin to encompass the realities of water availability. These shifts have not come easily; they have met strong internal opposition. They are still not universally accepted, and they may not be permanent. Nevertheless, these changes represent a real shift in the way humans think about water use. This paper summarizes the components of this ongoing shift and looks at the new paths being explored. It evaluates the major reasons for the change in approach and discusses the applicability of these new concepts in different parts of the world.