Automation and real-time control have long been used in urban wastewater systems. However, there is a critical need to review how real-time control contributes to sustainable water management. This review provides a systematic review of the role of real-time control towards creating a sustainable wastewater system. This review identifies the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainability that can be achieved using automation and control systems, considering individual systems and different scales of integration. Results obtained from a systematic literature review show that previous research on automation and control related to sustainability in the water sector focuses on addressing economic issues (mainly operational cost reduction) and improving the quality of the water environment, while the social pillar of sustainability is not addressed to a great deal. Integrated control is identified as a promising approach to address the three pillars of sustainability. Future research on automaton and real-time control in the water and wastewater system needs to explicitly demonstrate the contribution of control strategies towards the attributes of sustainability. To this end, regulatory bodies should focus on creating an overarching sustainability framework with indicators of sustainability clearly defined. Further, addressing three pillars of sustainability requires an integrated approach at a catchment scale where upstream and downstream processes are considered.