Analysis of Water Management Scenarios Using Coupled Hydrological and System Dynamics Modeling

  • Huanhuan Qin
  • Chunmiao ZhengEmail author
  • Xin HeEmail author
  • Jens Christian Refsgaard


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.


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



This work has been supported by the National Key R&D Program of China, project number 2016YFC0401404; the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), grant numbers 41861124003, 41701042 and 41807179; the DANIDA fund, project File No. 17-M08-GEU. Skylor Steed is thanked for his help in the English language editing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Nuclear Resources and EnvironmentEast China Institute of TechnologyNanchangChina
  2. 2.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringSouthern University of Science and TechnologyShenzhenChina
  3. 3.Department of Water ResourcesChina Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower ResearchBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of HydrologyGeological Survey of Denmark and GreenlandCopenhagenDenmark

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