In this paper, researchers investigate the social impact of water restrictions on households in the Ballarat and District Water Supply System. They present a general framework for evaluating the social impact of water restrictions which centres on perceptions of economic circumstances, health and well-being and community character and cohesion. Using qualitative and quantitative research methods, researchers confirm that existing water restrictions are indeed having an impact, although the extent of that impact varies along key dimensions. Researchers also identify underlying drivers of attitudes towards water restrictions, namely the direct impact of water restrictions on the household, and beliefs regarding the equitable application of restrictions across the community. The research findings are significant at a number of levels. At the local level, they provide water resource practitioners and policy makers with systematic data on which to base future water resource decisions and the communication messages and support strategies that accompany such decisions. More broadly, the findings shed light on an issue of critical national importance and they contribute to our theoretical knowledge of its impacts and complexities, and strategies for measurement.