There are important legal dimensions to the relationship between water and heritage. This paper reports on the challenges Indonesia is facing concerning water management. Age-old customary water governance systems exist in parts of the country and continue to influence local decisionmaking and water use practices. However, such heritage institutions can no longer safeguard local community water rights nor protect the environment. Since the 1990s, business power has been gradually overstepping customary socio-legal arrangements with negative effects on both the local population and water supply. Policy recommendations issued by the World Bank in 2004 supported opening paths to privatization. At present, national legislation and corporate interests have taken control of water management. Simultaneously, water heritage sites have been transformed into tourist attractions. Also, plantation companies promote land heritage issues when that serves their divide-and-rule strategies and turns public attention away from their water grabbing. A change in state legislation is needed that prioritizes the public instead of capitalist business interests regarding water supply and preservation. The lessons from heritage systems are very relevant to bringing about that change.