Water was first published by Stoddart in Canada in May 1999 and then in the UK by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in July 1999. It was published in the U.S. (Houghton Mifflin), France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Korea, Japan and China. A revised and updated version of Water was published in the spring of 2003 by McClelland & Stewart. A 3-hour television miniseries was aired on the Discovery Channel in 2005. The book is still in print in 9 languages in 12 countries, and has carried a variety of titles and subtitles. The original Stoddart edition carried no subtitle at all. The British edition called it Water Wars, against the author’s wishes. Later editions in Canada and the U.S. used the useful subtitle, “The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource”.

The book got uniformly good press. The New Yorker said “The author’s argument is exceptionally persuasive here because he does not scold or inveigh but lucidly and reasonably reports …” The San Francisco Chronicle said it was “A broad and deep range of facts, statistics and disturbing images about water … a fascinating and disturbing worldwide survey …” Canadian Geographic, for its part, said it was “an eloquent , informative and ultimately troubling book …”, while the By the Book Club of Texas said this: “The story of water and its (mis)uses is told both elegantly and exhaustively by Marq de Villiers in his apply titled Water, a book big enough and smart enough to be the final word on the subject.”

Individuals noticed too: Rick Bass, author of Where the Sea Used to Be: “This book is as compelling and lucid as it is powerful. I couldn’t put it down. Water is a gift to the future.” Sandra Postel, author of Last Oasis and Pillar of Sand: “Marq de Villiers scans the world through a water lens – and writes with eloquence, humor and a rare kind of passionate intelligence…” Maurice Strong, former UN Undersecretary General and chairman of the Earth Council: “Water is emerging as one of the central issues of the new century. Marq de Villiers presents in this book a compelling and engrossing account of why this is so … Timely, authoritative, and eminently readable.”