This paper summarizes the evolution of engineering water conservancy, environment water conservancy, resources water conservancy and ecological water conservancy in our country. Moreover, the research progress, developing tendency and characteristics of ecological water conservancy worldwide is explored. Corresponding results demonstrate that ecological water conservancy is a way of water resources utilization in the time of ecological civilization, which serves the sustainable development of human society through implementing water conservancy and developing economy with the gist of respecting and protecting ecological environment. Present paper elucidates the connotation, definition and development mode of generalized ecological water conservancy, and proposes following conclusions and academic viewpoints:① Generalized ecological water conservancy explores specific measures and ways in ecological water conservancy to meet the demands of human society and healthy water ecosystem through selecting water resources and water cycle operation as primary ecological elements from the multiple perspectives of energy exchange, biological links, structural balance and cycle and transformation in watershed ecosystem. ② This paper presents engineering and ecological security system for the full-process and lifecycle (i.e. planning and design, construction management and ecological regulation) of water conservancy project. In particular, ecological regulation is incorporated into the full-service period of water conservancy project. Furthermore, we highlight that basin-scale ecological regulation is the most effective measure to protect and restore ecosystem in the "post-dam era". ③ We suggest dominating the spatial dimension of ecological water conservancy, promoting optimal design of ecological-production-living spaces, ensuring the reasonable allocation of ecological-production-living water use, and optimizing the relationship among general life, production and ecology from the perspective of ecological environment, social economy and water cycle regulation in the system of planning and governance of territorial space to realize ecology protection and high-quality development of society and further promoting the innovative development of ecological water conservancy.