The development of water quality assessment strategies investigating spatial and temporal changes caused by natural and anthropogenic phenomena is an important tool in management practices. This paper used cluster analysis, water quality index method, sensitivity analysis and canonical correlation analysis to investigate priorities in pollution control activities. Data sets representing 22 surface water quality parameters were subject to analysis. Results revealed that organic pollution was serious threat for overall water quality in the region. Besides, oil and grease, lead and mercury were the critical variables violating the standard. In contrast to inorganic variables, organic and physical-inorganic chemical parameters were influenced by variations in physical conditions (discharge, temperature). This study showed that information produced based on the variations and correlations in water quality data sets can be helpful to investigate priorities in water management activities. Moreover statistical techniques and index methods are useful tools in data - information transformation process. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.