IWRM operates within different ideologies, ranging from empiricism to postmodernism when describing thought; from neorealism to classic structuralism in political economy; and from rationalism to social constructivism in international relations. These ideologies manifest in political dogmas and in the way that society organizes governance, with the private good vs. public good paradigms and the institutional hierarchy vs. a network approaches being important for Integrated Water Resources Management. With the history of sustainable development spanning Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” to Agenda 21, and beyond, IWRM emphasizes an enabling policy and regulating environment; institutional roles and responsibilities; and management instruments as prerequisites to deploying water resources to support social and economic development while ensuring sustainability of the resource. Water resource management in South Africa has moved from a focus on private good, with a strong role of the state and institutions to a greater emphasis on public good and a network approach. While this shift has brought about short term social and economic befits, the sustainability of water resources has been compromised. The challenges in implementing progressive legislation is reflected in a shortage of skilled people, weaknesses in management instruments and difficulties in finding a balance between the role of the state and institutions and the effective function of networks to achieve development outcomes. Keywords: IWRM, Water, South Africa, Sustainable development