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Water Benefits Sharing under Transboundary Cooperation in the Lancang-Mekong River Basin

Li, Dongnan, Zhao, Jianshi, Govindaraju, Rao S.
Journal of hydrology 2019 pp. 123989
basins, dams (hydrology), economic development, game theory, hydrologic models, population growth, rivers, stakeholders, uncertainty, watersheds, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam
Rapid economic development and population growth in the Lancang-Mekong River Basin makes it imperative for water resources to be used fairly and efficiently among all stakeholders. This paper proposes an integrated model framework to assess the water benefits sharing schemes among the five stakeholders in the basin, namely, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Three objectives are considered for this assessment—hydropower (HP), eco-index (EI), and agricultural water use (AW). The hydrologic model, optimization model, and cooperative game theory methods are jointly used to analyze the water benefits of stakeholders under different scenarios. According to the model, cooperation can bring more incremental benefits in dry years when water resources are scarce. Three cooperative game theoretical methods, namely, the Shapley value, the Gately point, and the Nash–Harsanyi solution, are employed to find the possible benefit sharing solutions. The results show that China and Laos need to operate their reservoirs for downstream countries’ beneficial uses under cooperation, and thus, compensation by reallocating the incremental benefit from cooperation is necessary no matter which method is used. It is found that all of the future damming plans would enhance the basin-level cooperation in most cases. In particular, according to the analysis, damming in the basins of the Sesan, Srepok, and Sekong rivers would have more effect than damming in the upper Lancang-Mekong River Basin after 2030. Based on some verified assumptions, the results of this paper can offer real-world preferences, but the uncertainties need to be further explored.