integrated water management

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‘A process that promotes coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources, in order to not only maximize economic and social welfare, but also ensure equity and sustainability’ (Chao (2005) Env. Informatics Archs 3). Radif (1999, Desalination 124) urges that integrated water resources management be based ‘on the perception of water as an integral part of the ecosystem, a natural resource and a social and economic good’.

The general objective is the environmentally sound, equitable, and sustainable utilization and development of water resources. This may include supply management, demand management (water conservation, transfer of water to uses with higher economic returns, etc.), water quality management, recycling and reuse of water, economics, conflict resolution, public involvement, public health, environmental and ecological aspects, socio-cultural aspects, water storage (including long-term storage or water banking), conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater, water pollution control, flexibility, regional approaches, weather modification, sustainability, etc. (Bouwer (2000) Ag. Water Manage. 45).

In a study of the Loess Plateau, China, Chen et al. (2007) PPG31, 4 list the factors to be considered: ‘basic farmland construction, plantation of cash trees, firewood and conservation wood, roads, water banks, agricultural structure modifications, and local people's needs (such as daily fuel, daily drinking water, education, medical care and other factors regarding improving living conditions).’ Remedial measures include the use of check dams; afforestation and the planting of shrubs and grasses on slopes (see rehabilitation ecology); and land closure, in order for ecosystems to rehabilitate naturally, without human intervention (see Zhang (2005) Acta U. Agric. Suecia 126). ‘Natural recovery by land closure is strongly recommended on the steep slopes’ (Chen et al., op. cit.).

In natural rehabilitation, the degraded soil may be improved (Jia et al. (2005) Forest Ecol. & Manage. 217), and the biodiversity may be increased steadily over time. However, revegetation usually takes a long time, especially from an extremely degraded state (Bellot et al. (2001) Land. & Urb. Plan. 55). Zhang (op. cit.) estimates that several decades to hundreds of years may be needed in the Loess Plateau.

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.

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