A river ecosystem health (REH) assessment system, based on indicators for morphological form, hydrology features, aquatic life, and habitat provision was established to characterize REH. The standard interval Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution method (TOPSIS) does not fully consider dynamic changes in REH, so interval numbers and the mean were introduced into an improved version of TOPSIS to achieve a more objective analysis. The improved interval TOPSIS method was tested in the Zhangweinan River and a river ecosystem health integrated index (REHI) was calculated. The REHI decreased from 0.376 to 0.346 over the past 25 years and the REH ranged from general to poor for 1991 to 1995 and from poor to very poor for 1996 to 2000, 2001 to 2005, 2006 to 2010, and 2011 to 2015. The ecosystem health is poor because of dams and reservoirs in the upper reaches that prevent water flowing to the lower reaches, over-abstraction of water, and severe pollution. This method gives objective and accurate assessments of REH and can be used to support decision-making and evaluation in a range of fields.

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