Recent years have witnessed an expanding body of peri-urban and urban scholarship. However, recent scholarship has yet to adequately address the central role of politics and power shaping water quality decline. The article focuses on the trans-Hindon region which is part of Ghaziabad city, close to India’s capital, Delhi. We draw upon urban political ecology and peri-urban scholarship to explain the role of politics and power shaping water quality decline. We argue in favour of creating stronger synergy between peri-urban and UPE debates as part of conceptualizing water quality decline. The article shows that as a complex socio-political challenge, water quality decline is centrally shaped by the intensifying linkages between urban and peri-urban forms of development and as a result deserves central attention as part of both these debates.