Water resource crises are an increasing threat to human survival and development. To reveal the nature of water resource issues under changing situations, the water resources system needs to be studied from a macro and systematic perspective. This report develops a water resources system into a water resources compound system that is constantly evolving under the combined action of the development, resistant, and coordination mechanisms. Additionally, the water quotient is defined as a quantitative representation of the sustainable development state of the water resources compound system. Four cities in China, Beijing, Fuzhou, Urumqi, and Lhasa, were selected as the study areas. The differences in the three types of mechanisms and the water quotient of the water resources compound system of each city in 2013 were compared. The results indicate that the different subsystems that comprise the compound system of a given area have different development mechanisms and resistant mechanisms. There are clear differences in the mechanisms and the water quotients for the water resources compound systems of different regions. Pertinent measures should be taken into account during integrated water resource management to improve the sustainable development status of regional water resources compound systems.