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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 20, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 771–785, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-20-771-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 771–785, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-20-771-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 19 Feb 2016

Research article | 19 Feb 2016

The cost of ending groundwater overdraft on the North China Plain

Claus Davidsen1,2,3, Suxia Liu2, Xingguo Mo2, Dan Rosbjerg1, and Peter Bauer-Gottwein1 Claus Davidsen et al.
  • 1Technical University of Denmark, Department of Environmental Engineering, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
  • 2Chinese Academy of Sciences, Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Beijing, China
  • 3Sino-Danish Center for Education and Research, Aarhus, Denmark

Abstract. Overexploitation of groundwater reserves is a major environmental problem around the world. In many river basins, groundwater and surface water are used conjunctively and joint optimization strategies are required. A hydroeconomic modeling approach is used to find cost-optimal sustainable surface water and groundwater allocation strategies for a river basin, given an arbitrary initial groundwater level in the aquifer. A simplified management problem with conjunctive use of scarce surface water and groundwater under inflow and recharge uncertainty is presented. Because of head-dependent groundwater pumping costs the optimization problem is nonlinear and non-convex, and a genetic algorithm is used to solve the one-step-ahead subproblems with the objective of minimizing the sum of immediate and expected future costs. A real-world application in the water-scarce Ziya River basin in northern China is used to demonstrate the model capabilities. Persistent overdraft from the groundwater aquifers on the North China Plain has caused declining groundwater levels. The model maps the marginal cost of water in different scenarios, and the minimum cost of ending groundwater overdraft in the basin is estimated to be CNY 5.58 billion yr−1. The study shows that it is cost-effective to slowly recover the groundwater aquifer to a level close to the surface, while gradually lowering the groundwater value to the equilibrium at CNY 2.15 m−3. The model can be used to guide decision-makers to economic efficient long-term sustainable management of groundwater and surface water resources.

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Short summary
In northern China, rivers run dry and groundwater tables drop, causing economic losses for all water use sectors. We present a groundwater-surface water allocation decision support tool for cost-effective long-term recovery of an overpumped aquifer. The tool is demonstrated for a part of the North China Plain and can support the implementation of the recent China No. 1 Document in a rational and economically efficient way.
In northern China, rivers run dry and groundwater tables drop, causing economic losses for all...
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