Optional Water Development Strategies for the Yellow River Basin
Optional Water Development Strategies for the Yellow River Basin: Balancing Agricultural and Ecological Water Demands
Ximing Cai and Mark W. Rosegrant International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Abstract: The Yellow River basin is of utmost importance for China in food production, natural resources management, and socioeconomic development. Water withdrawals for agriculture, industry and households in the past decade have seriously depleted ecological water requirements in the basin of which agriculture is the major player. This paper presents a modeling scenario analysis of some water development strategies to harmonize water withdrawal demand and ecological water demand in the Yellow River Basin through water saving and inter-basin water transfer. A global water and food analysis model, IMPACT-WATER, including the Yellow River Basin as one of the modeling units, is applied for the analysis. It is found that there is little space for resolving the conflict between agriculture water demand and ecological water demand in the basin, if the current practices of water use continue. Strong tradeoffs exist between irrigation water use and ecological water use and the tradeoffs will become more intensive in future years with population growth, urbanization and industrial development, and food demand increases in the YRB. Substantial pressure exists in the basin to improve water demand control and water saving, and for consideration of other measures including inter-basin water transfer through the South-North-Water Transfer (SNWT) project. Scenario analysis in this paper concludes that increasing water use efficiency to a feasible level first and then supplementary water availability by the SNWT may provide a solution to water management of the YRB in the next 25 years.