The article argues for a human development approach to the water “crisis.” It explores the application of the entitlements approach (EA) and capabilities approach (CA) to water. EA goes beyond volumetric or per capita measurements of water scarcity and directs attention to the structural and institutional issues concerning water inequalities. CA focuses on links between water and wellbeing. Both strengthen the case for the human right to water and break down false distinctions between water for domestic and productive purposes. Despite challenges with operationalizing CA and EA, a human development approach to water helps question the sector’s traditional focus on utilitarianism and efficiency. It also directs attention to equity and to the needs and interests of the marginalized and excluded.