Water soft paths begin from the vision that future water management has more to gain from reducing demand than from increasing supply. This article reviews three case studies of water soft path analysis in small urban areas in Canada, and one study of an urban planning process incorporating soft path concepts. The analytical studies indicate how communities can avoid the need for expansion of water infrastructure with negligible impacts on lifestyles or livelihoods. The planning study demonstrates that it is possible to introduce water soft paths early in a review, and that this will stimulate more ecologically sensitive thinking among citizens, officials and political leaders. Similar conclusions can be expected from soft path studies in urban areas elsewhere in the developed world.