Optimal Allocation of Groundwater Resources: Managing Water Quantity and Quality

  • Qiuqiong HuangEmail author
  • Scott D. Rozelle
  • Richard E. Howitt
  • James E. Wilen
Part of the Natural Resource Management and Policy book series (NRMP, volume 50)


Despite the importance of groundwater in the economy of the Hai River Basin (HRB), falling water tables and salinization of aquifers are both occurring in the region. Hydrological and hydrogeological studies have shown that increases in the salinization of parts of the freshwater aquifers are closely related to the extraction of groundwater. This study uses a framework that considers the interaction between water quantity and quality to examine how the presence of the prehistoric saline water layer affects groundwater management. Simulation results show that in a region where there is a salinization problem like in the HRB, it is optimal to pump at high rates in the early stage of extraction when the quality of groundwater is high. It is then optimal to reduce the pumping rate rapidly as the quality of groundwater deteriorates. Given this characteristic of the optimal pumping path, the heavy extraction currently observed in the HRB does not necessarily indicate that groundwater resources are being overused. However, unregulated extraction by non-cooperative users would eventually cause both the depletion of the water resource and the deterioration of water quality. Hence, joint quantity–quality management is required in the HRB. The study also shows that benefits to groundwater management are higher and costs are lower in regions with salinization problems.


  1. Burt, O. R. (1964). Optimal resource use over time with an application to ground water. Management Science, 11(1), 80–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen, W. (1999). Groundwater in Hebei province. Beijing: Earthquake Publishing House. [in Chinese].Google Scholar
  3. Dinar, A., et al. (1993). A dynamic model of soil salinity and drainage generation in irrigated agriculture: A framework for policy analysis. Water Resources Research, 29(6), 1527–1537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Feinerman, E., & Knapp, K. C. (1983). Benefits from groundwater management: Magnitude, sensitivity, and distribution. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 65(4), 703–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gisser, M., & Sanchez, D. A. (1980). Competition versus optimal control in groundwater pumping. Water Resources Research, 16(4), 638–642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hebei Bureau of Geology Reconnaissance. (2003). Report on the evaluation of groundwater resources in Hebei Plain. Hebei: Shijiazhuang.Google Scholar
  7. Howitt, R., & Nuckton, C. F. (1981). Is overdrafting groundwater always bad? California Agriculture, 35(1), 10–12.Google Scholar
  8. Judd, K. L. (1998). Numerical methods in Economics. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Kan, I., et al. (2002). Microeconomics of irrigation with saline water. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 27(1), 16–39.Google Scholar
  10. Kendy, E. (2003). The false promise of sustainable pumping rates. Journal of Ground water, 41(1), 2–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Knapp, K. C. (1992a). Irrigation management and investment under saline, limited drainage conditions: 1. Model formulation. Water Resources Research, 28(12), 3085–3090.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Knapp, K. C. (1992b). Irrigation management and investment under saline, limited drainage conditions: 2. Characterization of optimal decision rules. Water Resources Research, 28(12), 3091–3097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Knapp, K. C. (1992c). Irrigation management and investment under saline, limited drainage conditions: 3 policy analysis and extensions. Water Resources Research, 28(12), 3099–3109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Maas, E. V., & Hoffman, G. (1977). Crop salt tolerance: Current assessment. Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 103(2), 115–134.Google Scholar
  15. Ministry of Water Resource et al. (2001). Agenda for water sector strategy for North China. Ministry of Water Resources (MWR), World Bank and AusAID.Google Scholar
  16. Miranda, M. J., & Fackler, P. L. (2002). Applied computational economics and finance. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Mu, C., & Zhang, J. (2002). The current status of downward movement of saline and freshwater interface and the mechanism of saline water intrusion. Hebei Hydrology and Water Electricity Technology(1), 37–39.Google Scholar
  18. Negri, D. H. (1989). The common property aquifer as a differential game. Water Resources Research, 25(1), 9–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nickum, J. E. (1988). All is not wells in North China: Irrigation in Yucheng county. In G. T. O’Mara(Ed.), Efficiency in irrigation: A world bank symposium (pp. 87–94). Washington, D.C.: World Bank.Google Scholar
  20. Provencher, B., & Burt, O. R. (1993). The externalities associated with the common property exploitation of groundwater. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 24, 139–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Roseta-Palma, C. (2003). Joint quantity/quality management of groundwater. Environmental & Resource Economics, 26(1), 89–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Roseta-Palma, C. (2002). Groundwater management when water quality is endogenous. Journal of Environmental Management, 44, 93–105.Google Scholar
  23. Rubio, S. J., & Casino, B. (2001). Competitive versus efficient extraction of a common property resource: The groundwater case. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 25(8), 1117–1137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shao, Y., et al. (2003). Technique of brackish water for farmland irrigation. Tianjin Agricultural Sciences, 9(4), 25–28.Google Scholar
  25. Shen, Z., et al. (2000). The evolution of the groundwater environment in North China Plain. Beijing: Geology Publishing House.Google Scholar
  26. Song, W., & He, J. (1996). Current status of water resources in Cangzhou City. Hebei Hydrology and Water Electricity Technology (2).Google Scholar
  27. Van Genuchten, M. T., & Hoffman, G. J. (1985). Analysis of crop salt tolerance data. In I. S. a. J. Shalhevet (Ed.) Soil salinity under irrigation processes and management. (pp. 258–271). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  28. Wang, H. F., & Anderson, M. P. (1995). Introduction to groundwater modeling: Finite difference and finite element Methods. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  29. Zhu, J., et al. (2002). Causes for degradation of the environment of the deep aquifers in Hebei Plain and the countermeasures. Journal of Shijiazhuang Teachers College, 4(2), 39–42.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qiuqiong Huang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Scott D. Rozelle
    • 2
  • Richard E. Howitt
    • 3
  • James E. Wilen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Economics & AgribusinessThe University of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.University of California, DavisDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations