In this study, a customized WQI (Seoul water quality index, S-WQI) for urban rivers that can ultimately reflect their characteristics was developed by modifying and supplementing the existing Bascarόn WQI calculation method through linkage with statistical methods such as factor analysis. We used the water quality data generated monthly at 17 water quality monitoring networks (WQMNs) in Seoul for 18 years, from 2002 to 2019. Result of a research, the monthly S-WQI showed an average 70 out of 100, ‘good (II)’ grades, whereas the average water quality grade according to the environmental standards was ‘slightly good (II),’ with an R2 value of 0.8298. The annual S-WQI was found to be 39 (bad) to 97 (very good), with an average of 72 (good). Through this study, S-WQI, a customized WQI for urban rivers, was judged to be a reasonable index that can represent the characteristics of urban river water quality. This is because it is easy to apply and is a calculation method that uses relatively fewer water quality items than the WQI calculated in the past, and it is highly likely to be linked to the currently implemented water quality grade system. In addition, to extend the application of WQI to various water quality survey points, based on the calculation methodology performed to derive the indices in this study, such as modified S-WQI (MS-WQI), by adding new water quality items and changing some items, it is also possible to develop an advanced customized WQI for urban rivers considering watershed characteristics and measurement items.

  • We developed customized water quality index (S-WQI) suitable for water quality evaluation of urban rivers.

  • S-WQI was developed by modifying and supplementing the existing WQI calculation method through linkage with statistical methods.

  • S-WQI was likely to be linked to the currently implemented water quality grade system.

  • S-WQI can be extended and applied to water quality evaluation of various urban rivers.

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