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Integrating water quality management & landuse planning in a watershed context

Integrating water quality management & landuse planning in a watershed

Journal of Environmental Management (2001) 61, 25–36 doi:10.1006/jema.2000.0395, available online at http://www.idealibrary.com on Integrating water-quality management and land-use planning in a watershed context X. Wang The spatial relationships between land uses and river-water quality measured with biological, water chemistry, and habitat indicators were analyzed in the Little Miami River watershed, OH, USA. Data obtained from various federal and state agencies were integrated with Geographic Information System spatial analysis functions. After statistically analyzing the spatial patterns of the water quality in receiving rivers and land uses and other point pollution sources in the watershed, the results showed that the water biotic quality did not degrade significantly below wastewater treatment plants. However, significantly lower water quality was found in areas downstream from high human impact areas where urban land was dominated or near point pollution sources. The study exhibits the importance of integrating water-quality management and land-use planning. Planners and policy-makers at different levels should bring stakeholders together, based on the understanding of land–water relationship in a watershed, to prevent pollution from happening and to plan for a sustainable future. © 2001 Academic Press Keywords: water quality, land-use planning, watershed management, Geographic Information Systems, Index of Biotic Integrity, Invertebrate Community Index. Introduction Industrialization and urbanization have brought prosperity, and at the same time, also have resulted in many environment problems. It has been recognized that the quality of receiving waters is affected by human activities in a watershed via point sources, such as wastewater treatment facilities, and non-point sources, such as runoff from urban area and farm land. Although researchers have paid particular attention to the effect of land use on water quality (Lenat and Crawford, 1994; Hall et al., 1994), a water-quality component often is missing in land-use plans and land-use planning is rarely used in water-quality management. This could be due to the fact that water-quality management and landuse planning often are administrated by different agencies that do not coordinate constantly. Most planning agencies and local Email of author: xinhao.wang@uc.edu authorities do not have resources to collect extensive land use and water-quality data in developing plans (Wang and Yin, 1997) and water-quality management agencies traditionally address existing water-quality problems rather than preventing them. Water quality refers to the physical, biological and chemical status of the water body. Streams and rivers are typically diverse and biologically productive environments in their natural form. The presence, abundance, diversity and distribution of aquatic species in surface waters are dependent upon a myriad of physical and chemical factors, such as temperature, suspended solids, pH, nutrients, chemicals, and in-stream and riparian habitats. Until recently, the dominant methods of evaluating water quality are based on water chemical and, to some extent, physical properties. Studies have found that biological impacts from non-point sources and habitat degradation may not be fully represented by the periodical measurements of the physical–chemical characteristics of water bodies. School of Planning, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0016, USA Received 19 April 2000; accepted 5 October 2000 0301–4797/00/010025C12 $35.00/0 © 2001 Academic Press

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