Public Participation (PP) has gained widespread recognition as a key water management principle. Despite this, the practical application of PP remains problematic. This article presents the current state of developments in PP theory and practice. It discusses the benefits of PP and gives many suggestions for making PP more effective. It pays special attention to the place of PP in democratic theory, to the cultural context of PP, and to its application in international river basins. This article concludes that PP should not be regarded simply as an accessory in aiding water management. Effective PP is, in fact, an entirely different mode of governance.