Water environments in urban areas are important community assets due to their ecological and aesthetic value. It has long been recognised that urbanisation alters the stream flow regime and introduces numerous pollutants to receiving waters. Unfortunately, current approaches to safeguarding urban water quality can be largely ineffective as they focus on standard ‘end-of-pipe’ solutions. Problems of urban water pollution need do be dealt with at source rather than end of pipe and as such will only be remedied through innovative planning. For urban planning to offer solutions, it is crucial that an in-depth understanding of the impact of the urban footprint on the water environment is established. This paper presents the outcomes of a three-year research study in Gold Coast, Queensland, aimed at developing an understanding of the relationships between water quality and urban land use.