In water management and in spatial planning there is a debate on the fundamental underlying discourses of the policy domains. In Dutch water management an emergent discourse of 'accommodating water', which is competing with the traditional 'battle against water' discourse, can be seen. In Dutch spatial planning there is a debate on new practices of area-specific development planning, which are considered to reflect new ideas on spatiality better than the traditional Dutch planning doctrine. The authors discuss these recent developments, and attempt to analyse institutional changes with the help of the perspective of policy arrangements. The analysis is focused on the interrelations between the two policy arrangements, and both new 'rules of the game' and new policy practices are considered. The question is posed as to whether these practices are forerunners of new arrangements or do they merely reflect a revised policy and planning agenda of the existing institutional order?