Water Resources Allocation Considering the Water Use Flexible Limit to Water Shortage—A Case Study in the Yellow River Basin of China

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Water resources allocation in a river basin is customarily determined based on long-term mean water availability. However, inter-annual variability of water resources caused by climate fluctuation should also be considered in order to keep an effective and flexible allocation policy. This paper analyzes the historical evolution of the water resources allocation system in the Yellow River basin of China. Based on the concept of water use flexible limit to water shortage and actual water use data from 1988–2006, a set of flexible limits to water shortage adapted to the Yellow River basin has been proposed. This includes total water use flexible limit to water shortage for all provinces, which is approximately 70%; and the different water use flexible limits to water shortage for each social sector, which are approximately 90% for agriculture, 85% for domestic use, and 50% for other industries. It offers a simple, yet effective, method for future water resources allocation in the Yellow River basin to achieve the optimal use of water resources. It likewise provides a beneficial reference for water resources management in the water deficient regions of China.

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Correspondence to Dawen Yang.

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Shao, W., Yang, D., Hu, H. et al. Water Resources Allocation Considering the Water Use Flexible Limit to Water Shortage—A Case Study in the Yellow River Basin of China. Water Resour Manage 23, 869–880 (2009).

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  • Flexible limit
  • Water shortage
  • Water resources allocation
  • Yellow river