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Development of a Long-term, Ecologically Oriented Dam Release Plan for the Lake Baiyangdian Sub-basin, Northern China

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Using China’s Lake Baiyangdian sub-basin for a case study, we developed an ecologically oriented dam release plan that can be used to define an optimal dam operation scheme that provides both the environmental flows required by bodies of water and wetlands downstream from the Xidayang Reservoir dam and enough water for agricultural, and industrial water users. In addition, we evaluated the benefits that might be provided by modifying releases of water from the reservoir. To attain ecological sustainability in the sub-basin, we used the supply for each water user as a decision variable based on three objectives: (1) to achieve sustainable socioeconomic development; (2) to keep the water volume as close as possible to the ideal environmental flows in the urban rivers of Baoding City; and (3) to keep the water amount as close as possible to Lake Baiyangdian’s ideal environmental water requirements. We used the ideal-point method to provide dimensionless values for the first objective, and then used a weighting method to integrate the three objectives into a single holistic goal. We then used the GAMS/CONOPT software to solve the nonlinear model and predict the optimal results. We discuss the optimal water allocation and ecologically oriented dam release plans for the three scenarios. To determine the limitations of the method, we performed a sensitivity analysis, and discuss the optimal results for different weightings of objectives provided by decision-makers. The results of the optimization analysis provide a set of effective compromises among the target objectives that can guide future management of water releases from the reservoir.

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This work was supported by the National Science Foundation for Innovative Research Group (No. 51121003), the National Science Foundation Program of China (No.51279008), and the International Science & Technology Cooperation Program of China (No. 2011DFA72420). We also thank Geoffrey Hart for providing language help during the research.

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Correspondence to Wei Yang.

Appendix 1. Parameter Definitions

Appendix 1. Parameter Definitions

A b :

is the total water surface area (108 m2)

A i :

is the area of the ith crop (ha)

C j :

(j = 1, 2) is the concentration organic pollutants (as chemical oxygen demand, COD) in the controlled river section (mg/L)

C o :

is the pollutant concentration in the outflow water (mg/L)

C s :

is the COD criterion for the controlled river section (mg/L)

C u :

is the pollutant concentration in the inflow water (mg/L)

D 1 :

is the agricultural water demand (108 m3)

D b :

is the base flow, which is the lowest streamflow for 7 consecutive days that would be expected to occur once in 10 years (108 m3)

D l :

is the water needed to compensate for the leakage losses through river beds (108 m3)

D r :

is the ideal environmental water requirements for the urban rivers (108 m3)

D w :

is the ideal environmental flows of Lake Baiyangdian (108 m3)

E 3 :

is the water loss due to evaporation and leakage from the rivers (108 m3)

f 1(q 1, q 1′):

is agricultural gross income as a function of surface and groundwater consumption (108 RMB)

f 2(q 2, q 2′):

is the gross economic from the water supply in industry (108 RMB)

G :

is the maximum allowable exploitation of groundwater (108 m3)

g 1(q 1):

is the surface water supply cost in agriculture (108 RMB)

g 1′(q 1′):

is the groundwater supply cost in agriculture (108 RMB)

g 1″(q 1″):

is the water-conservation cost in agriculture (108 RMB)

g 2(q 2):

is the cost function for the surface water supply in industry (108 RMB)

g 2′(q 2′):

is the cost function for the groundwater supply in industry (108 RMB)

g 2′″(q 2′″):

is the cost function for wastewater treatment (108 RMB)

g 2″(q 2″):

is the cost function for water conservation in industry (108 RMB)

IQ i :

is the given irrigation quota for the ith crop (108 m3/ha)

k :

is the degradation rate coefficient for pollutants (1/d)

Q 0 :

is the initial amount of water in Lake Baiyangdian (108 m3)

q 1 :

is the amount of surface water used for agriculture (108 m3)

Q 1 :

is the water supply to Baoding City from the Xidayang Reservoir (108 m3)

q 1′:

is the amount of groundwater used for agriculture (108 m3)

q 1″:

is the amount of water conservation in agriculture (108 m3)

q 1max :

is the water-conservation capacity in agriculture (108 m3)

Q 1max :

is the water supply capacity to Baoding City from the Xidayang Reservoir (108 m3)

q 2 :

is the amount of surface water used for industry (108 m3)

q 2′:

is the amount of groundwater used for industry (108 m3)

q 2′″:

is the treated wastewater from industry (108 m3)

q 2″:

is the water conservation in industry (108 m3)

q 2max :

is the water-conservation capacity in industry (108 m3)

Q 2max :

is the water supply capacity to agriculture from the Xidayang Reservoir (108 m3)

Q 3 :

is inflow water from upstream of the urban rivers (108 m3)

Q o :

is the water outflow rate (m3/d)

Q u :

is the water inflow rate (m3/d)

Q xmax :

is the water supply capacity of the Xidayang Reservoir (108 m3)

V :

is the volume of river water (m3)

w 1 :

is the water returned from agriculture to the river channels (108 m3)

w 2 :

is the treated wastewater released by industries (108 m3)

w 3 :

is water flowing into Lake Baiyangdian from the urban rivers (108 m3)

Z 1 :

is the net benefit from the agricultural and industrial systems (108 RMB)

Z 1′:

is the dimensionless function that describes the first objective

Z 1a :

is the agricultural net income (108 RMB)

Z 1b :

is the industrial net income (108 RMB)

Z 1max :

is the maximization of the net benefit from the socioeconomic system

Z 2 :

is the ratio of the difference between the annual inflows into the urban rivers and the ideal environmental water requirements to the ideal environmental water requirements

Z 3 :

is the estimated environmental water requirements of Lake Baiyangdian (108 m3)

α1 :

is the proportion of water returned from agriculture to the river channel

α2 :

is the proportion of water returned from industry to the river channels


is the leakage coefficient (m/year)

ω i :

(i = 1, 2, and 3) is the weighting coefficient of the ith objective, and ω123 = 1

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Yang, W., Yang, Z. Development of a Long-term, Ecologically Oriented Dam Release Plan for the Lake Baiyangdian Sub-basin, Northern China. Water Resour Manage 27, 485–506 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-012-0198-7

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  • Ecologically oriented dam release plans
  • Multi-objective optimization
  • Environmental water requirements
  • Lake Baiyangdian