Decision of water for many regions. =>

Decision support for integrated river basin management – Scientific research challenge


0. Introduction

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            • 20th C: management of individual reservoir, aquifer and other water resource  infrastructure.

• Last few decades: holistic planning & decision-making -> complex ineractions within   the basin.

• idea ? theory. Stronger scientific & technological foundation needed

• Overview major challenges & promising approaches.


1. Outstanding problems in integrated river basin management


1.1 Environmental changes.  

1 Climate change: particularly impactful. underlying assumptions invalid. more complicated planning processes + uncertainty

ex) retreat of glaciers & permanent snow => major source of water for many regions. => snow fall & melt patterns are altered

     Climate changes => disrupt current allocation schemes & heavy stress on infrasturcture.

2 Land-use change rapidly: impact on interactions between humans & biophysical environment => difficult to predict. Land-use change = human interventions + natural processes. but don’t know human interventions or natural processes are responsible for the changes.

• correlation between basin components is unclear + insufficient scientific info & understanding

ex 1) large-scale U.S. Midwest agricultural development over 150 years. => aquatic ecosystems, flooding, water quality + extensive hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico

ex 2) China, the Heihe River basin. develop large portions of the arid + semi-arid, including Heihe River basin. => 1400 Km2 land & 270 km2 surface water area lost.

 Large change in land can cause sever environmental degradation ( runoff change, decline of groundwater table, + degeneration of surface water + groundwater quality), desertification, salinization, vegetation degeneracy.


1.2 Unsustainable practices.

1 practices without consideration to social, ecological, environmental uses of water => led to an exploitation & degradation of water resources.

ex) China, the Heihe River basin. human consumption of water + domestic & irrigation water demand => severe aquatic & riparian ecosystem degradation. natural + human system + all stakeholders should work together.


1.3 The lack of an integrated scientific framework

narrowly focused & poor understanding of basin causes environmental damage.

IRBM: work independently, integrate the results from different perspectives.


example of future groundwork: hydro-sociology, coupled natural-human systems, socio-hydrology, hydro-morphology


2 Promising approaches for integrated river basin management implementation


2.1 Integrated hydrologic-ecological-economic modeling analysis

1 problem in former method: x consider complexity. natural & socioeconomic characteristics. Different assumptions, temporal & spatial scales, data format

2 Holistic models: can solve such problems. + changing institutional processes, water reallocation, water markets, land use management, managing for climate change and drought.


2.2 Basin characterization by observation and modeling analysis

* Critical Zone Observatories (CZO): inform development of basin + response to environmental, climate, anthropogenic change.

ex) Hiwater (the Heihe Watershed Allied Telemetry Experimental Research)

 objectives • develop remote sensing method

                   • apply scientific research within decision-making of IRBM

result: field experiments, modeling of hydrologic, meteorological, ecological, agricultural activity

using this method to throughout the China => unknown patterns can be evident of basin management.


2.3 Decision support systems: Data, model, and interface integration

1970s Decision Support Systems (DDS), US – Better Assessment Science integrating point & Non-point Sources (BASINS), Europe, 1990s – the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), China-Heihe River Basin

– Successful implement of a DSS: scientific standards, + availability of models, requirement of the users, effective communication among stakeholders, decision-makers and scientist required.


3 Research challenges and opportunities

3.1 Filling the gap between science and management practice

The U.S. National Research Council: combining scientific analysis + public participation,






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