This paper examines the drought that hit Athens between 1989 and 1991 and analyses the role of this natural phenomenon as the "ferment" for ongoing political-economic transformations in the direction of liberalisation and privatisation of water management and allocation in Greece. The paper analyses how the drought was marshalled as an effective discursive vehicle to facilitate and expedite the state-led neoliberal political-economic agenda. It shows how the social consensus around a number of "emergency measures" that the state adopted to deal with a "natural" crisis was grounded in a particular discourse on water and in the political-economic "positioning" of "nature" as a source of crisis. In turn, this change in the "discursive" production of nature fused with the rhetoric and practice of market-led development and privatisation and, ultimately, facilitated important transformations in the social and political-economic (material) production of nature. © 2003 Editorial Board of Antipode.