Land cover and water quality patterns in an urban river: A case study of River Medlock, Greater Manchester, UK

Cecilia Medupin, Rosalind Bark, Kofi Owusu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Urban river catchments face multiple water quality challenges that threaten the biodiversity of riverine habitats and the flow of ecosystem services. We examined two water quality challenges, runoff from increasingly impervious land covers and effluent from combined sewer overflows within a temperate zone river catchment in Greater Manchester, North-West UK. Sub-catchment areas of the River Medlock were delineated from digital elevation models using a Geographical Information System. By combining flow accumulation and high-resolution land cover data within each sub-catchment and water quality measurements at five sampling points along the river, we identified which land cover(s) are key drivers of water quality. Impervious land covers increased downstream and were associated with higher runoff and poorer water quality. Of the impervious covers, transportation networks have the highest runoff ratios and therefore the greatest potential to convey contaminants to the river. We suggest more integrated management of imperviousness to address water quality, flood risk and, urban wellbeing could be achieved with greater catchment partnership working.
Original languageEnglish
Article number848
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2020


  • ArcGIS
  • Digital elevation model
  • Land cover
  • Sources and pathways
  • Urban river
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Water quality status

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