The issue of sustainable modes of development are not restricted to those concerning environmental protection or pollution control/minimisation. In generic terms, sustainable systems are those which can be adapted to changing circumstances. Given the essential nature of utilities there is a clear need to plan and manage their technologies in a sustainable manner. This paper offers an initial theoretical structure for designing and managing adaptive technological infrastructures for utilities in generic terms and suggests how such a framework may apply to water supply systems. In particular, the development of new water recycling technologies and the emergence of ‘complex system’ modelling techniques provide opportunities for the design of water supply systems which are adaptive to changes in the urban social and physical environment in which they are embedded.