Iran has reached critical level of water crisis, although long been facing water scarcity. Currently, the belief gained ground that the challenges of today and tomorrow are more related to poor governance than water shortage and the main strategy to cope with water crisis lies in water governance reform. The new research agenda of water governance underlines on interdisciplinary examination of theories drawn from public economics, institutional economics, political economy and public administration. The aim of this study is to analysis the past and present sustainability of water governance in Zayandeh-Rood basin. By combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, data were collected through documentary and survey research by structured interviews with 171 farmers and 68 experts. The results showed that the current water governance is not favorable with equity, effectiveness and efficiency, transparency, accountability, responsiveness, coherency, participation and rule of law principles. Further, this study tried to explain the fundamental principles of sustainability in traditional water governance which can facilitate the transition to effective and fit-for-purpose water governance.