This paper investigates how drinking water is delivered in rural areas in Guatemala. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of the government, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and communities. Community preferences for improved water services are also investigated. Findings suggest that governmental and non-governmental organizations require communities to take on the operation and management of water services as a condition to investing in infrastructure. Communities are also required to contribute to the implementation of water systems. These requirements are not necessarily responsive to community preferences which, coupled with low system revenues, may jeopardize the sustainability of water projects in the long run.