Understanding the complex relationships between land use and stream water quality is critical for water pollution control and watershed management. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between land use types and water quality indicators at multiple spatial scales, namely, the watershed and riparian scales, using the ordinary least squares (OLS) and geographically weighted regression (GWR) models. GWR extended traditional regression models, such as OLS to address the spatial variations among variables. Our results indicated that the water quality indicators were significantly affected by agricultural and forested areas at both scales. We found that extensive agricultural land use had negative effects on water quality indicators, whereas, forested areas had positive effects on these indicators. The results also indicated that the watershed scale is effective for management and regulation of watershed land use, as the predictive power of the models is much greater at the watershed scale. The maps of estimated local parameters and local R2
in GWR models showcased the spatially varying relationships and indicated that the effects of land use on water quality varied over space. The results of this study reinforced the importance of watershed management in the planning, restoration, and management of stream water quality. It is also suggested that planners and managers may need to adopt different strategies, considering watershed characteristics—such as topographic features and meteorological conditions—and the source of pollutants, in managing stream water quality.
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