If we are thinking of the same thing, a water block placed at the top and flowing down, yeah they still work, it will just take longer now than it did before. Like the other guy said the water was patched a little bit.
Water, being a block, you can place it till you reach the height limit
You could always have a ladder going up, fairly easy and you can go up and down pretty fast.
Water ladders no longer work at all, but traditional boat elevators can be modified to work in 1.7.3. The new boat behavior only allows boats to float upwards in a column of water if the entire column is composed of source blocks or if there are no solid blocks directly adjacent to the column.
It is also possible to create boat elevators using discrete pockets of water contained with signs ala Docm77's elevator and another multi-floor design I saw on the forums. Some searches should yield some pretty clever designs.