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The concept of a river basin as a management or planning unit has gone through several stages and is in a state of flux. From its western ?discovery? in the 18th century to its advent as the overriding concept behind European water policy, the river basin has been conjured up and mobilized in evolving contexts with varying intentions. Associated with utopian ideas of the late 19th century, it supported ideas of full control of the hydrologic regime and multipurpose dam construction in the 1930?1960 period, then partly faded and was revived to address water-quality problems, before reemerging in the 1990s as the cornerstone of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), enriched and blended with watershed- and...