Many catchments in northern Algeria, including the coastal Mitidja Basin in the north central part of the country have been negatively affected by the deterioration of water quality in recent years. This study aims to discover the relationship between land use change and its impact on water quality in the coastal Mitidja river basin. Based on the data of land use and water quality in 2000, 2010 and 2017, the relationship between land use change and surface water quality index in the Mitidja Watershed was discussed through GIS and statistical analysis. The results show that the physical and chemical properties of the Mitidja river basin have obvious spatial heterogeneity. The water quality of upstream was better than that of downstream. There was a significant spatial relationship between the eight water quality indicators and three land use types, including urban residential land, agricultural land and vegetation. In most cases, settlements and agricultural land are the dominant factors leading to river pollution, and higher vegetation coverage helps to improve water quality. The regression model revealed that percentage of urban settlement area was a predictor for NH4
, COD, SS, PO4
-P, DO and pH, while vegetation was a predictor for NO3
-N. The analysis also showed that during this period, urban settlement areas increased sharply, which has a significant impact on water quality variables. Agricultural land only had a significant positive correlation with PO4
-P. The results provide an effective way to evaluate river water quality, control water pollution and land use management by landscape pattern.
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