At the basin scale, the operation of surface water reservoirs rarely takes groundwater aquifers into consideration, which can also be regarded as reservoirs underground. This study investigates the impact of reservoir operation on the water cycle and evaluates the effect of the joint operation of surface water and groundwater reservoirs on the water conflict in arid regions through an integrated modeling approach. The Heihe River Basin (HRB) in northwestern China is selected as the study area. Our results show that the ecological operational strategies of a reservoir under construction in the upper HRB have a direct impact on the agricultural water uses and consequently affect other hydrological processes. The ecological operation strategy with a smaller water release and a longer duration is beneficial to securing the environmental flow towards the downstream area and to replenishing aquifers. With the joint operation of surface water and groundwater reservoirs, a balance among the agriculture water need, the groundwater sustainability in the Middle HRB and the ecological water need in the Lower HRB can be flexibly achieved. However, the joint operation can hardly improve the three aspects simultaneously. To resolve the water conflict in HRB, additional engineering and/or policy measures are desired.
Tian, Y., Xiong, J., He, X., Pi, X., Jiang, S., Han, F., & Zheng, Y. (2018). Joint operation of surfacewater and groundwater reservoirs to addresswater conflicts in arid regions: An integrated modeling study. Water (Switzerland), 10(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/w10081105