This paper reviews the potential for taking a more holistic, interdisciplinary approach towards one of the less visible dimensions of the built environment: water and wastewater infrastructure. On a worldwide scale, there is an ever-increasing demand for water, along with an urgent need for improved sanitation.  Conventional wastewater engineering fails to take into account many of the issues raised by the concept of sustainable development.  As such more radical systems of approach need to be considered, concerning society as a whole.  This paper will outline some of the main issues surrounding the subject of water and wastewater management, and will discuss the issue of public participation in water and wastewater planning.  The influence of psychological factors on acceptance of wastewater technologies is also discussed. Tentative conclusions, along with possible implications for further research are then presented.