||In this paper we address the complexity of the analysis of water use in relation to the issue of sustainability. In fact, the flows of water in our planet represent a complex reality which can be studied using many different perceptions and narratives referring to different scales and dimensions of analysis. For this reason, a quantitative analysis of water use has to be based on analytical methods that are semantically open: they must be able to define what we mean with the term “water” when crossing different scales of analysis. We propose here a definition of water as a resource that deal with the many services it provides to humans and ecosystems. WE argue that water can fulfil so many of them since the element has many characteristics that allow for the resource to be labelled with different attributes, depending on the end use –such as drinkable. Since the services for humans and the functions for ecosystems associated with water flows are defined on different scales but still interconnected it is necessary to organize our assessment of water use across different hierarchical levels. In order to do so we define how to approach the study of water use in the Societal Metabolism, by proposing the Water Metabolism, tganized in three levels: societal level, ecosystem level and global level. The possible end uses we distinguish for the society are: personal/physiological use, household use, economic use. Organizing the study of “water use” across all these levels increases the usefulness of the quantitative analysis and the possibilities of finding relevant and comparable results. To achieve this result, we adapted a method developed to deal with multi-level, multi-scale analysis - the Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM) approach - to the analysis of water metabolism. In this paper, we discuss the peculiar analytical identity that “water” shows within multi-scale metabolic studies: water represents a flow-element when considering the metabolism of social systems (at a small scale, when describing the water metabolism inside the society) and a fund-element when considering the metabolism o ecosystems (at a larger scale when describing the water metabolism outside the society). The theoretical analysis is illustrated using two case which characterize the metabolic patterns regarding water use of a productive system in Catalonia and a water management policy in Andarax River Basin in Andalusia.