This paper intends to present a critical review of the planning models that can be used for sustainable water resource development. Three types of models are identified and assessed: (1) economic analysis models; (2) decision analysis models; and (3) systems analysis models. The methodology adopted in this paper is based on first describing the different types of models and then synthesizing and evaluating these models in terms of their theoretical underpinnings, applications, strengths and weaknesses. Each model is investigated with respect to its utility in addressing sustainability in water resource management. The study concludes that decision-based and system-based models may offer a wider spectrum of concepts than economic models in addressing multi-objective, multi-actor or 'wicked' problems in water management and resource sustainability.