Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2015, Vol. 7 ›› Issue (6): 687-701.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2015.00687

• ARTICLES • Previous Articles    

Water accounting for conjunctive groundwater and surface water irrigation sources: A case study in the middle Heihe River Basin of arid northwestern China

XueXiang Chang1, Bing Liu1, Hu Liu1, ShouBo Li2   

  1. 1. Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences;Linze Inland River Basin Research Station;Key Laboratory of Ecohydrology of Inland River Basin, CAS, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China;
    2. School of Remote Sensing, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210044, China
  • Received:2015-02-09 Revised:2015-05-13 Published:2018-11-23
  • Contact: XueXiang Chang
  • Supported by:
    This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 40771079 and 41471024).

Abstract: Oases in arid northwestern China play a significant role in the region's economic stability and development. Overexploitation of the region's water resources has led to serious environmental consequences. In oases, irrigated agriculture is the primary consumer of water, but water shortages resulting from dramatically growing human needs have become a bottleneck for regional sustainable development, making effective management of the limited available water critical. Effective strategies must be formulated to increase agricultural productivity while reducing its environmental impacts. To support the development of such strategies, water use patterns were analyzed during the 2007 and 2008 growing seasons, from May to early October, to identify opportunities for improving water management using the Molden-Sakthivadivel water-accounting method, which combines groundwater and surface water into a single domain and can provide a good estimate of the uses, depletion, and productivity of water in a water basin context. The study area lies in Linze County, Gansu Province, China. In the study area, the inflow water resources consist of irrigation, precipitation, and soil water, which accounted for 89.3%, 8.9%, and 1.8% of the total in 2007, and 89.3%, 4.8%, and 5.9% in 2008, respectively. The irrigation depends heavily on groundwater, which accounted for 82.1% and 83.6% of the total irrigation water in 2007 and 2008, respectively. In 2007 and 2008, deep percolation accounted for 50.1% and 47.9% of the water outflow, respectively, with corresponding depleted fractions of 0.51 and 0.55, respectively. For the irrigation district as a whole, the water productivity was only 1.37 CNY/m3. To significantly increase crop water productivity and prevent depletion of the region's groundwater aquifer, it will be necessary to reduce the amount of water used for irrigation. Several water-saving agricultural practices are discussed and recommended.

Key words: water accounting, water irrigation sources, water management, water productivity, middle Heihe River Basin, northwestern China

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