The aim of this paper is — given current controversies in the field of water resources management — to formulate a limited number of coherent views. The paper starts with describing some of the major current controversies among water scientists and policy makers. These controversies refer to questions like: what factors determine water demand, what is the possible role of technology, how much water is available, what is water scarcity and what kind of policy to adopt under water scarcity conditions? It is shown for instance that pricing of water is only one particular way of appreciating water. As a starting point in the search for coherent views, the four ‘perspectives’ from the cultural theory of Thompson are used: the hierarchist, egalitarian, individualist and fatalist. It appears that current controversies in the water management field can be well understood from these four perspectives.