Water is indispensable to agricultural production and trade. Using a global production network (GPN) framework, this article explores the variegated ways water risks manifest in agricultural value chains. Moving beyond extreme events, such as floods and droughts, we explore how the emergence and convergence of political, economic and ecological perspectives during the past 25 years has led to more nuanced understandings of water risks. By doing so, we contribute to ongoing efforts to move the environmental dimension more centrally into GPN literature, emphasising how globalised production and trade enmesh with environmental governance regimes. Our argument draws on empirical evidence from the South African fruit industry, which illustrates how water risks have a physical, reputational and regulatory/political dimension. These water risks are actor and context specific, manifest relationally to each other, and largely originate beyond the individual farm gate. They are often underlying and ongoing rather than one-off extreme events. These insights develop our understanding of how environmental risks are manifested and managed in GPNs.