Coastal re-engineering and freshwater extraction have reduced water flow into the estuaries of the world. Because of these activities, stressed coastal vegetation is especially vulnerable to die-off during droughts, contributing to a loss of human services related to storm protection, fisheries and water quality. The subsequent collapse of vegetation is often as related to the loss of flow as to the rise in salinity. The solution to the problem in regions with rapidly expanding human populations may be to apply strategically timed freshwater releases to estuaries. To be successful, the water requirements of both humans and natural environments need careful assessment. Flow management projects have been successful in reviving vegetation in a number of settings including The Everglades, Murray River, Mississippi River and Nueces River. These projects can be contentious, for example, if the projects have caused negative impacts to the oyster industry. Beyond the human services provided, flowing water has an intrinsic personal value for which many people are willing to pay.