Analysis of water management scenarios using coupled hydrological and system dynamics modeling

Huanhuan Qin, Chunmiao Zheng, Xin He, Jens Christian Refsgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The North China Plain (NCP) has been affected by severe water scarcity over the past several decades. To address this issue, several water management plans have already been launched. Among them, the new South-to-North Water Diversion Project (SNWDP) draws the most attention. However, the effectiveness of the SNWDP is yet to be evaluated. In the present study, we developed a coupled hydrological and system dynamics (SD) model to analyze water management scenarios for the NCP: S1: business as usual, S2: less agricultural water, S3: more domestic and industrial water reuse, S4: SNWDP, and S5: combined efforts. The impact of climate change has been accounted for in all scenarios. The SD model was based on VENSIM, and the hydrological model was based on the MIKE SHE code. The results indicated that the groundwater development in the NCP will not be sustainable without exploiting the full potential of the SNWDP resource. However, the SNWDP alone can only lessen the water crisis, it is not able to stop the groundwater storage from further declining. Solving the water scarcity problem in the NCP will require a combination of highly reduced water use and a continued water supply from the SNWDP. Our results also indicated that innovative water saving technologies are urgently needed in the restructuring of the industrial sector. Furthermore, the study illustrated an added challenge to water management since the uncertainty range on climate change impacts are shown to be of the same magnitude as the impacts of combined management measures. Therefore, it requires great caution when making the future water management strategies in the NCP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4849-4863
Number of pages15
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Climate change
  • Hydrological model
  • North China Plain (NCP)
  • South-to-North Water Diversion Project (SNWDP)
  • System dynamics (SD) model
  • Water resources management

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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