Understanding sediment dynamics in peri-urban catchments constitutes a research challenge because of the spatiotemporal complexity and variability of land-uses involved. This study investigates differences in the concentration of total sediments (TSC) and suspended sediments (SSC) in the small peri-urban Mediterranean Ribeira dos Covões catchment (40% urban area) in central Portugal. Suspended sediment responses at the catchment outlet (E) and in three upstream sub-catchments, during periods of urbanization (2011–2013) and stabilizing land-use (2017–2018) are compared for storm-event datasets encompassing similar ranges of rainstorm sizes and antecedent rainfall condition. The Quinta sub-catchment, with the lowest urban area (22%) but subject to major construction activities affecting 17% of its area, led to highest TSC and SSC during urbanization (attaining 4320 mg/L and 4184 mg/L, respectively), and a median reduction of 38% and 69%, respectively, during stabilization. Espírito Santo sub-catchment, with highest urban area (49%) and minor construction activities, displayed similar median TSC in both periods (258–240 mg/L) but highest SSC reduction (76%), highlighting the impact of the anthropogenic disturbance mainly on fine-particle sediments and a good connectivity with the stream. Porto Bordalo sub-catchment, with 39% urban area and subject to the construction of a four-line road covering 1.5% of its area, showed the lowest TSC and SSC concentrations and the lowest median reductions in both periods (31% and 64%, correspondingly), mainly because of the impact of an unplanned retention basin established with soil from the construction site. Overall, median TSC and SSC reduced 14% and 59% at E, from urbanization to stabilization. Information about sediment dynamics should guide stakeholders in establishing strategies to reduce sediment loads and mitigate the impacts on urban aquatic ecosystems.
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