Anthropology brings a uniquely holistic sensibility to the study of water. It examines water from multiple dimensions and in its myriad forms to understand the many ways that people make meaning and a living from water. Anthropology’s study of water provides a foundation for contemporary application and practice by anthropologists and others toward solving a wide range of water-related problems. In this introduction, we introduce the seven articles that form this special issue on applied anthropology and water. Collectively, the articles provide valuable and diverse insights on the application of anthropology to a wide range of water issues. The articles also demonstrate the capacity of research and practice centered around applied anthropology to highlight local impacts and responses at multiple scales and across institutions. Here, we discuss four thematic areas shared across the articles that suggest wider commonalities for applied anthropological research and practice. These areas are configurations of clean water access; multiplicity and heterogeneity of the lived experiences of water; injustice, inequities, and inequalities related to water; and ethnography in applied research on water. We conclude by suggesting characteristics and qualities of applied anthropological research on water, which might guide future research and practice.