Exploring Future Water Shortage for Large River Basins under Different Water Allocation Strategies

Dan Yan*, Mingtian Yao, Fulco Ludwig, Pavel Kabat, He Qing Huang, Ronald W.A. Hutjes, Saskia E. Werners

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change and socio-economic development increase variations in water availability and water use in the Pearl River Basin (PRB), China. This can potentially result in conflicts over water resources between water users, and cause water shortage in the dry season. To assess and manage water shortage in the PRB, we first explored two water availability and three water use scenarios. Next, four different strategies to allocate water were defined. These water allocation strategies prioritized upstream water use, Pearl River Delta water use, irrigation water use, and manufacturing water use, respectively. The impact of the four strategies on water use and related economic output was assessed under different water availability and water use scenarios. Results show that almost all the regions in the PRB are likely to face water shortage under the four strategies. The increasing water demand contributes twice as much as the decreasing water availability to water shortage. All four water allocation strategies are insufficient to solve the water scarcity in the PRB. The economic losses differ greatly under the four water allocation strategies. Prioritizing the delta region or manufacturing production would result in lower economic losses than the other two strategies. However, all of them are rather extreme strategies. Development of water resources management strategies requires a compromise between different water users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3071-3086
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number9
Early online date14 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Climate change
  • Pearl River basin
  • Socio-economic development
  • Water resources allocation
  • Water shortage


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