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Dilemmas in water systems development in China
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Ecology.
2011 (English)In: What is Sustainable Technology?: Perceptions, Paradoxes and Possibilities / [ed] Karel Mulder, Didac Ferrer and Harro van Lente, Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing , 2011, 213-234 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

China has an urgent need to resolve its dilemmas on water systems development due to the damage being done to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the need to maintain socio-economic development. This chapter summarises historical water systems development in China as regards the changing priorities of water management, and discusses in detail pernicious problems in the YRB (Yellow River Basin), which is under severe water stress. The aims are to explore the role played by articulations of sustainable development in shifts in China’s water management regime in recent decades, and to identify challenges in the compromises needed to resolve the various water systems dilemmas in China. One crucial dilemma for current quantitative water management is to balance the ‘control regime’ and the ‘adaptive regime’ in order to prevent natural disasters. In China’s specific ecological and socio-economic context, two aspects are crucial in resolving the various water systems dilemmas that exist there: facilitating integrated water resources management approaches in river basins; and stimulating technological development to alleviate water allocation conflicts and prevent water pollution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing , 2011. 213-234 p.
Keyword [en]
China, integrated water resources management, river development, water institutions, water systems, water technology, water management regimes, Yellow River
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-49586ISBN: 978-1-906093-50-1OAI: diva2:459848
QC 20111201Available from: 2011-11-28 Created: 2011-11-28 Last updated: 2012-05-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. A Pressure-oriented Approach to Water Management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Pressure-oriented Approach to Water Management
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Without a comprehensive understanding of anthropogenic pressures on the water environment, it is difficult to develop effective and efficient strategies to support water management in a proactive way. A broader systems perspective and expanded information systems are therefore essential to aid in systematically exploring interlinks between socioeconomic activities and impaired waters at an appropriate scale.

This thesis examined the root causes of human-induced water problems, taking the socioeconomic sector into account and using systems thinking and life cycle thinking as the two main methods. The European DPSIR (Drivers-Pressures-State of the Environment-Impacts-Responses) framework was also used as a basis for discussing two kinds of approaches to water management, namely state/impacts-oriented and pressure-oriented.

The results indicate that current water management approaches are mainly state/impacts-oriented. The state/impacts-oriented approach is mainly based on observed pollutants in environmental monitoring and/or on biodiversity changes in ecological monitoring. Employing this approach, the main concern is hydrophysical and biogeochemical changes in the water environment and the end result is reactive responses to combat water problems.

As a response, a pressure-oriented approach, derived from a DPR (Drivers-Pressures-Responses) model, was developed to aid in alleviating/avoiding human-induced pressures on the water environment. From a principal perspective, this approach could lead to proactive water-centric policy and decision making and the derivation of pressure-oriented information systems. The underlying principle of the DPR approach is that many root causes of human-induced water problems are closely related to anthroposphere metabolism. An industrial ecology (IE) perspective, based on the principle of mass/material balance, was also introduced to trace water flows in the human-oriented water system and to account for emissions/wastes discharged into the natural water system. This IE-based perspective should be used as part of the basis for developing pressure-oriented monitoring and assessing impacts of human-induced pressures on recipient waters.

While demonstrating the use of the pressure-oriented approach, two conceptual frameworks were developed, for water quantity and water quality analysis, respectively. These two frameworks could help motivate decision makers to consider water problems in a broader socioeconomic and environment context. Thus they should be the first step in making a broader systems analysis in any given river basin, regarding setting systems boundary and identifying data availability. In this context, a combined hydrological and administrative boundary is suggested to monitor anthropogenic processes and organise socioeconomic activity statistics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. xii, 111 p.
Trita-IM, ISSN 1402-7615 ; 2012:04
DPR model. DPSIR framework. human-environment. industrial ecology. life cycle thinking. pressure-oriented approach. socioeconomic metabolism. systems thinking. water information. water quality. water quantity
National Category
Environmental Sciences
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-94861 (URN)978-91-637-0429-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-05-31, D3, Lindstedtsvägen 5, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
QC 20120515Available from: 2012-05-15 Created: 2012-05-11 Last updated: 2012-05-23Bibliographically approved

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