The concept of water governance is distinctive through its focus on not only public intervention, but also on self-organisation as a way to deal with water issues. This article first elaborates a framework with five dimensions to describe governance regimes. Thereafter it illustrates and uses this analytical framework with a cross country comparison of the evolution towards more integrated water governance regimes. Furthermore four qualities of such regimes are introduced and used to assess the degree to which a governance regime is supportive for integral and adaptive water management. Lastly the article explores how governance regimes evolve over time and what forces shape this combination of stability and dynamics. Keywords: dynamics of governance, international comparison, good governance assessment, adaptive water governance.