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Management Implications to Water Resources Constraint Force on Socio-economic System in Rapid Urbanization: A Case Study of the Hexi Corridor, NW China

Fang, Chuang-lin, Bao, Chao, Huang, Jin-chuan
Water resources management 2007 v.21 no.9 pp. 1613-1633
case studies, models, natural selection, normal distribution, poverty, socioeconomic development, socioeconomics, sustainable development, urbanization, water conservation, water supply, watersheds, China
As water has become the shortest resources in arid, semi-arid and rapid urbanization areas when the water resources utilization has approached or exceeded its threshold, water resources system slows down the socio-economic growth rate and destroys the projected targets to eradicate poverty and realize sustainable development. We put forward the concept of Water Resources Constraint Force (WRCF) and constructed a conceptual framework on it. Conceptual models on the interactions and feedbacks between water resources and socio-economic systems in water scarce regions or river basins indicate that, if the socio-economic system always aims at sustainable development, WRCF will vary with a normal distribution curve. Rational water resources management plays an important role on this optimistic variation law. Specifically, Water Demand Management (WDM) and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) are considered as an important perspective and approach to alleviate WRCF. A case study in the Hexi Corridor of NW China indicates that, water resources management has great impact on WRCF both in Zhangye and Wuwei Region, and also the river basins where they are located. The drastic transformation of water resources management pattern and the experimental project - Building Water-saving Society in Zhangye Region alleviated the WRCF to some extent. However, from a water resources management view, WRCF in Zhangye Region still belongs to the severe constraint type. It will soon step into the very severe constraint type. In order to shorten the periods from the very severe constraint type finally to the slight constraint type, WDM and IWRM in the Hei River Basin should be improved as soon as possible. However, in the Shiyang River Basin, WRCF belongs to the very severe constraint type at present due to poor water resources management in the past. Though the socio-economic system adapted itself and alleviated the WRCF to some extent, the Shiyang River Basin had to transform the water supply management pattern to WDM, and seek IWRM in recent years. It is concluded that WDM and IWRM is a natural selection to alleviate the WRCF on the socio-economic system and realize sustainable development.