In the legal scholarship, the ‘new governance’ mode of governance advances an administrative arrangement where decision-making is shared amongst a range of actors, both public and private. The flexible, responsive, and collaborative governance orientation is intended to counter the ill effects of a coercive, top-down, state-centric, command-and-control approach to governance. Critics contend the new governance framework can displace the interests of local communities, disempower individuals, and dislodge basic human rights. The U.S. military has adopted such an adaptive approach in its own governance structure, which in this article is referred to as: the new governance “mentality.” This mentality of governance was employed in the U.S.’s post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Iraq—efforts that were plagued by waste, inefficiency, and corruption. Governance scholars have yet to ask the question of what models of governance should apply in the post conflict situation where the environmental violence of war has poisoned waterscapes and degraded landscapes. Should an adaptive mode of new governance be applied in post conflict situations where public institutions are weak and beset by corruption? What is the role of the state and private actors when the war is over and the reconstruction period begins? In this article, we explore a dark side of the new governance framework through the case study of the Iraq war theatre and examine how the transformed military culture shaped the 2003–2013 Coalition operations in Iraq and the reconstruction effort—in particular, the provision of safe, clean drinking water to local communities.