With demand increasingly outstripping supply, the sustainable consumption of water is a crucial public policy issue. This article outlines a case study of the urban water marketing system of Melbourne, Australia. The study illustrates how Melbourne s water marketing system responded to the shock of drought and then was reset through changes in the formal, informal, and philosophical antecedents of the marketplace. Change was facilitated in part through public policy but also through the interplay between the antecedent classes that enabled new marketplace outcomes to occur. Interviews with seven upstream water experts and 16 downstream household water consumers, in combination with secondary sources, illustrate how consumers shifted their perspective on water consumption from a right to consume to a view that water needed to be consumed responsibly. Through an examination of the interactions among the external factors that shape the water marketing system, this article shows how changes in public policy can be effected if they are appropriately integrated into the informal and philosophical foundations of the marketplace.