The paper raises the volume on complex social issues that affect water management. The paper proposes Amartya
Sen's capability approach (CA) as a suitable framework against which to consider these complex ideals. This is
because the CA is attentive to issues of social justice and it addresses a range of intangible goods that contribute to
human well-being which are critical if the gap between progressive ideas about water policy and their practical
application is to be lessened. We isolate certain attributes within the CA and propose that these attributes are particularly
relevant when considering ideas of social justice concerning water. We then conclude that a sharper focus
on intangible social issues brings more precision to a water discourse that is all too often vague and fuzzy in its
dealings with society.