Almost all of the irrigated agricultural land in Turkey is served by open-canal gravitational systems. Water in these systems is regulated by hand-operated gate control and measurement. Nearly all of these systems were constructed by the State Water Works (DSI). From 1993 onwards, transfer of operation and maintenance of these systems to water users' organizations, principally irrigation associations, was accelerated. At present this work is to the point of completion. This paper seeks to evaluate the structural, management, operational and mechanization status of these systems, both before and after the handover. And further to point out the problems that arise from structure and management that need to be overcome for the success of sustainable water management in the operation of these systems, and emphasizing suggested solutions to these problems: financial measures for renovation and modernization; legal measures such as reforms to facilitate the organization of the associations; and educational measures to train farmers and personnel in irrigation.