Unfolding the complexity in water reallocation decision-making in the Heihe River Basin, China

Yongping Wei, Shuanglei Wu, Zhixiang Lu, Ray Ison, Andrew Western, Murugesu Sivapalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water reallocation decision-making is a challenge faced by most river basins around the world. In this study, a system thinking framework was developed to structurally unfold the complex interactions of water reallocations with societal, economic and ecological subsystems in the Heihe River Basin in China. The results indicate that ecological degradations appeared much later than economic development. Slow-changing societal values and limited considerations of technological development and government regulations towards environmental protection contributed to the weak and untimely responses of water reallocations to ecological degradation. This framework can assist in strategic water reallocation decision-making in river basins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-594
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Water Resources Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023


  • China
  • Water reallocation decision-making
  • ecological degradation
  • integrated qualitative and quantitative approach
  • river basin management
  • systems-based solutions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Water Science and Technology


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