Despite a constitutional right to water, challenges remain for access to sufficient water in South Africa. This article considers the degree to which current legal provisions perpetuate approaches that are antithetical to genuinely eco-socio-sustainable water access. Water in South Africa has largely been re-cast as a commodity, exposed to market rules, proving problematic for many and giving rise to various responses, including litigation. In the seminal case of Mazibuko, the Constitutional Court failed to provide robust protection to the right to water, providing impetus for the formation of “commons” strategies for water allocation. Indeed, “commoning” is beginning to represent not only an emerging conceptual strand in urban resource allocation, but also a dynamic, contemporary, eco-sensitive, socio-cultural phenomenon, driving innovative, interactive and inclusive forms of planning and social engagement. Against the backdrop of unequal water access, commoning offers glimpses of an empowering and enfranchising subaltern paradigm.