The paper describes the relationship between politics, environment and economics as a background to the demands for managing environmental water and effluent qualities. The alternatives to meet these demands environmental protection and cost to be assessed together. Quality targets are set for environmental waters which ensure that the agreed uses of the water are protected. These targets can then be related to discharge standards. This provides a framework for priority planning and investment which separates the politics from science. The principles are exemplified by the practical experience of Anglian Water, an English Water Company (and the predecessor authority).