The institutions involved in fresh water governance in Mexico have evolved over time. This change is widely documented for water used for irrigation but not for drinking. There are formal and informal institutions that manage the drinking water at differences level. The Water National Law recognizes formal institutions as the National Water Commission that influences all management levels, State, Municipalities and in some cases, the private companies (cases of Mexico City, Saltillo and Puebla). However, there are informal institutions (not recognized by the Law) as water committees (CAs acronym in Spanish), that provide water mainly in rural and semi-urban areas. According to the literature, CAs existed before the water federalization in 1988. Today, more than 200 CAs have been documented in different communities, but we do not know how they have survived. We documented the institutional changes and governance of drinking water to understand how seven CAs in Oaxaca´s Valley have changed and survived. Documental review, participant observation, informal interviews and semi-structure surveys were applied. We interviewed 53 key actors and 252 registered water users. In the first period of changes, the Spanish Colony pushed centralization at national level. Followed by the centralization of water to impulse a new energy politics through hydroelectric dams by the Mexican State to produce energy, resulting in the 1988 Water Federalization Act. This produced substantial changes at the local level with municipalities enforcing rules to take the control over drinking water. In the XXI century, the paradigm of centralization fell apart due to the incapacity of government and municipalities to provide drinking water. Thus, in 2015 the government promoted a reform to transfers water provision to private institutions aiming to eliminate shortages in Mexico with little success. We found that CAs have remained in the arenas of the water management, since municipalities have not been able to resolve shortages. The capacity of adaptation by CAs to new status quo of national water governance is given by some key actor that have the ability to find gaps in water legislation and their capacity to coordinate informal and formal arrangements with formal institutions. The result is a range of governance’s regimes at local level, enabling the prevalence or disappearance of many CAs. Regimes are: 1) public (municipalities; two CAs in Cuilapam de Guerrero), 2) public-community (CAs at San Martin Tilcajete), 3) community-public (one CAs in Cuilapam de Guerrero and another in San Catarina Minas) and 4) community (one CAs in Cuilapam de Guerrero). Most CAs changed from one to another regimen at different moments due to the influence of power and natural and induced shortages. We conclude that CAs persisted through time because: 1) their success in equilibrating water governance and solved drinking water provision in rural areas, 2) a strong social participation, and 3) they flexibility to collaborate with other institution (governmental, non-governmental and common property land tenure). Therefore, we suggested that inclusion of CAS in the National Law would be able to access incentives and programs to supply this vital resource in rural communities.