The aim of this study was to determine sensitive river basins and specific areas that urgently need planning activities for sustainable resource and environmental management. In this context, a combination of remote sensing (RS) and geographic information systems (GIS) were employed. For that purpose, a comprehensive overview of the current situation of Turkish river basins in terms of existing spatial data was provided and all tabular data gathered from the national authorities on regional basis was assessed in combination with the geometric data of Turkish river basins in a GIS environment. Considering the GIS studies that covered all 26 Turkish basins, the Marmara River Basin was selected as the model sensitive region and was studied in more detail by using 2000 dated Landsat 7 ETM mosaic satellite image. Results of this comprehensive study indicated that Istanbul, which is located in the basin under study and the largest metropolitan of Turkey, was determined as the most populated and urbanized area of the region. Istanbul was further examined to determine the expansion of urban areas over a time period of 16 years using Landsat images dated 1984, 1992 and 2000. Finally, interpretations were done by combining the demographic and statistical data on urban wastewater treatment plants to present the prevailing situation of the water treatment facilities in Istanbul. Our study not only delineated the importance of applying environmental policies correctly for the efficient installation and operation of urban wastewater treatment plants in Istanbul but also demonstrated that effective urban wastewater management is a nationwide problem in Turkey.