Third World Centre for Water Management


Volume 34, Issue 3

May 2018
SPECIAL ISSUE: Water Resources Research in China in the Context of Climate Change and Anthropogenic Activity
GUEST EDITORS: Peiyue Li and Hui Qian


Water resources research to support a sustainable China
Peiyue Li and Hui Qian


Conjunctive use of groundwater and surface water to reduce soil salinization in the Yinchuan Plain, North-West China

Peiyue Li, Hui Qian and Jianhua Wu

School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Chang’an University, Xi’an, China; Key Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecological Effects in Arid Region of the Ministry of Education, Chang’an University, Xi’an, China

Contact: Peiyue Li | Emails:,


Poor water resource management is an important factor in soil salinization in arid areas. In this study, the status of soil salinization and its controlling factors are summarized for the Yinchuan Plain, North-West China. The conjunctive use of surface water diverted from the Yellow River and groundwater abstracted from a shallow aquifer is proposed to alleviate soil salinization in the plain. Scenarios are designed and simulated to determine the optimal proportions at which groundwater should be exploited for irrigation in the three cities of the plain. Policies and suggestions regarding sustainable water resources and soil salinization research in the plain are recommended.

Pages: 337-353

Challenges and prospects of sustainable groundwater management in an agricultural plain along the Silk Road Economic Belt, north-west China

Jie Chen, Hao Wu, Hui Qian and Xinyan Li

Key Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecological Effect in Arid Region of Ministry of Education, Chang’an University, Xi’an, China; School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Chang’an University, Xi’an, China

Contact: Hui Qian | Email:


As a major challenge in building a new and sustainable Silk Road Economic Belt, threats induced by poor groundwater management have raised stress on the groundwater resources in the Yinchuan Plain, north-west China. In the present article, an overview of groundwater development in the plain, along with the associated negative effects, is provided. A fragmented management framework is found responsible for the poor groundwater management. Efficient and effective groundwater management will require proper attention of the local authorities to the inherent interaction among various water systems. Only with enhanced cooperation, an integrated monitoring network, strengthened scientific support and active public participation can the sustainability of groundwater management of the plain be achieved.

Pages: 354–368


Flash flood early warning research in China

Haichen Li, Xiaohui Lei, Yizi Shang and Tao Qin

State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing, China

Contact: Xiaohui Lei | Email:


Flash floods cause extensive loss of property and human life. Early warning systems present a more efficient approach to flood prevention and mitigation than engineering measures. This article reviews research on flash flood early warnings in China, including long-term prediction methods based on statistical regularity and flood mechanisms, and real-time warning indicators relying on multisource data and automated systems. Current research shortcomings are discussed, and suggestions for future improvements are proposed. This research can provide public officials with knowledge of flash flood early warnings, influencing policy and protecting people from flash flood disasters.

Pages: 369–385


Analysis of changes in flood regime using a distributed hydrological model: a case study in the Second Songhua River basin, China

Mingyuan Wanga, Xiaohui Leib, Weihong Liaob and Yizi Shangb

aCollege of Civil Engineering, Tianjin University, China; bState Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing

Contact: Xiaohui Lei | Email:


This study proposes and tests a new approach to detect and analyze changes in flood regime using a distributed hydrological model (EasyDHM), using the Second Songhua River basin, China, as a case study. Model calibration and parameter sensitivity were used to represent flood regimes in a 60-year series (1954–2013), with three different flood regime periods identified. The changes in flood regime were estimated by model parameters, flood result residuals and the overall process in the hydrological model in the three periods. The results show that human activities significantly impacted flood regimes, with significant flood regime change largely attributed to increases in water storage in multiple small reservoirs. Flood volume was reduced significantly between the periods in all three watersheds. The parameters also changed in variety between the periods. The study highlights the importance of incorporating data on smallreservoir constructions in flood control systems.

Pages: 386–404

Assessing emergency regulation technology in the Middle Route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China

Xiaohui Leia, Hezhen Zhengb, Yizi Shanga and Hao Wanga,b

aState Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing; bCollege of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Contact: Yizi Shang | Email:


The Middle Route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project is important for China. Any sudden water pollution accident along the route would threaten normal water supply. We studied four technologies (hydrodynamic and water quality simulation, source identification, emergency regulation, and evaluation of emergency measures) and developed and implemented a decision support system that provides technical support in managing pollution accidents. The achievements, which include four technologies and a system, have practical significance for emergency management in the Middle Route as they can help deal with accidents and policy formulation, and can be applied to other water transfer projects.

Pages: 405-417

General Papers

Structuring water rights in China: a hierarchical framework

Yahua Wanga, Tingting Wana and Asit K. Biswasb

aSchool of Public Policy and Management / China Institute for Rural Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China; bLee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Contact: Yahua Wang | Email:


The rapid development of China’s market economy compels the adoption of water rights and associated market mechanisms to optimize the allocation of water resources. The complexity of understanding and practising Chinese water rights is highlighted by the unique contextual characteristics of an authoritarian political regime, rapid socio-economic change and increasing scarcity of water resources. This article proposes a hierarchical framework to describe the particular water-rights structure in China based on natural resources institutional economics. It provides an analysis of emerging water markets and key factors affecting the formation of a modern water-rights system in contemporary China.

Pages: 418–433

Participatory water management and adoption of micro-irrigation systems: smallholder farmers in arid north-western China

Yubing Fana, Seong Parka and Zhibiao Nanb

aTexas A&M AgriLife Research, Vernon, Texas, USA; bState Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu, China

Contact: Yubing Fan | Email:


This study investigates smallholder farmers’ participation in and knowledge of village-based water user associations in northwestern China, and analyzes their interplay with membership in water associations and installation and application of micro-irrigation systems. Using farmer survey data, a multivariate probit model is built to analyze the effects of influential factors. Results show significant effects of farmers’ perceptions of water shortage and its causes, attitudes to water conservation, village-based information, and incentives on the membership in water user associations and installation and application of micro-irrigation. Policies promoting micro-irrigation adoption should target decentralized water management and facilitate farmers’ participation.

Pages: 434–452

Policy and implementation of land-based resettlement in China (1949–2014)

Dengcai Yana, Miao Wanga, Haibao Wangb and Guoqing Shia

aNational Research Center for Resettlement, Hohai University, Nanjing, China; bSocial Development School, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, China

Contact: Dengcai Yan | Email:


Since 1949, land compensation and allocation standards for rural resettlers in China have gradually improved. However, the land allocation standards that local governments promised or that were stipulated by policy were not met in practice. The factors that led to implementation gaps included the development outlook of the central government, the will of resettlers, the execution ability of the local government and the attitudes of residents in the host villages. To meet land-based resettlement goals, the government should raise the land compensation standards, and residents in the host village should share the benefits of the project.

Pages: 453–471


Continue Reading

View All Results »