Rivers should link, not divide us,said the Indian Prime Minister expressing concern over interstate disputes and urged state governments to show understanding and consideration, statesmanship and an appreciation of the others' point of views. Water conflicts in India now reach every level; divide every segment of our society, political parties, states, regions and sub-regions within states, districts, castes and groups and individual farmers. Waters conflicts within and between many developing countries are also taking a serious turn. Fortunately, the "water wars", forecast by so many, have not yet materialized. War has taken place, but over oil, not water. Water is radically altering and affecting political boundaries all over the world, between as well as within countries. In India, water conflicts are likely to worsen before they begin to be resolved. Till then they pose a significant threat to economic growth, security and health of the ecosystem and the victims are likely to be the poorest of the poor as well as the very sources of water - rivers; wetlands and aquifers. Conflicts might sound bad or negative, but they are logical developments in the absence of proper democratic, legal and administrative mechanisms to handle issues at the root of water conflicts. Part of the problem stems from the specific nature of water, namely that water is divisible and amenable to sharing; one unit of water used by one is a unit denied to others; it has multiple uses and users and involves resultant trade-offs. Excludability is an inherent problem and very often exclusion costs involved are very high: it involves the issue of graded scales and boundaries and need for evolving a corresponding understanding around them. Finally, the way water is planned, used and managed causes externalities, both positive and negative, and many of them are unidirectional and asymmetric. There is a relatively greater visibility as well as a greater body of experience in evolving policies, frameworks, legal set-ups and administrative mechanisms dealing with immobile natural resources, however contested the space may be. Reformists as well as revolutionary movements are rooted in issues related to land. Several political and legal interventions addressing the issue of equity and societal justice have been attempted. Most countries have gone through land reforms of one type or another. Issues related to forests have also generated a body of comprehensive literature on forest resources and rights. Though conflicts over them have not necessarily been effectively or adequately resolved, they have received much more serious attention,- have been studied in their own right and practical as well as theoretical means of dealing with them have been sought. In contrast, water conflicts have not received the same kind of attention. The 18 case studies presented here are part of a larger project, Compendium on Water Conflicts in India which is a modest attempt to capture different types of conflicts in terms of scale and nature of conflict with illustrative cases premised on the belief that understanding and documenting them in all their complexity would contribute to informed public debate and facilitate their resolution. This introductory article and the 18 case studies (see the figure for the listing of the cases and their locations) that follow have their roots in a process initiated by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) project, Dialogue on Water, Food and Environment. Discussions in civil society forums led to an awareness of the need to look at water conflicts and some information on a small number of relatively better known water conflicts in the south was collected and a summary of the cases was published as a small booklet.6 During a meeting in Bangalore organised to discuss this booklet, participants described many more varied conflicts and it was felt that there is a need for paying more attention to water conflicts in India.7 It soon became clear that information on water conflicts was scattered, unorganised and many conflicts were documented inadequately or not at all. It was decided that one of the first steps should be to bring out a compendium on water conflicts in India. A small group was formed to discuss the action plan and a core group as well as a steering group were set up to carry out and guide the activity. Since the process was initiated by a group that had strengths in peninsular India, it was decided to concentrate mainly on peninsular India at this stage, and include only a few representative cases from the rest of India. The case studies are a pragmatic direction to settle issues quickly and amicably. Third, encouraging voluntary compliance. The latter is a long way from becoming effective in India, since consumers/ users in particular are still focused mainly on price than on quality, safety, etc. To these we should add another concern, the ecosystem. Ecosystems have no voice, no votes, and some important ecosystem issues have never entered the agenda for water conflicts. For example, concepts of ecological flows, minimum ecosystem requirements and preservation of ecosystem services are not even being explored. .Yet, our long-term futures will finally be decided by whether we tackle these issues, before we poison the wellsprings of life on this planet.