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Water 2015, 7(10), 5617-5637; doi:10.3390/w7105617

Bayesian Network Modeling to Improve Water Pricing Practices in Northwest China

1
Institute of Farm Management (410c), Universität Hohenheim, Stuttgart 70593, Germany
2
Julius Kühn-Institut, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Strategies and Technology Assessment, Kleinmachnow 14532, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Miklas Scholz
Received: 3 August 2015 / Revised: 26 September 2015 / Accepted: 12 October 2015 / Published: 19 October 2015
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Abstract

Water pricing is regarded as the most important and simplest economic instrument to encourage more efficient use of irrigation water in crop production. In the extremely water-scarce Tarim River basin in northwest China, improving water use efficiency has high relevance for research and policy. A Bayesian network modeling approach was applied, which is especially suitable under data-scarce conditions and the complex geo-hydrological, socioeconomic, and institutional settings of the study region, as it allows the integration of data from various types of sources. The transdisciplinary approach aimed at understanding the actual water pricing practices, the shortcomings of the current system, and possible ways of improvement. In an iterative procedure of expert interviews and group workshops, the key factors related to water pricing and water use efficiency were identified. The interactions among specific factors were defined by the respective experts, generating a causal network, which describes all relevant aspects of the investigated system. This network was finally populated with probabilistic relationships through a second round of expert interviews and group discussions. The Bayesian modeling exercise was then conducted using Netica software. The modeling results show that the mere increase of water price does not lead to significant increases in water use efficiency in crop production. Additionally, the model suggests a shift to volumetric water pricing, subsidization of water saving irrigation technology, and advancing agricultural extension to enable the farmer to efficiently react to increased costs for water. The applied participatory modeling approach helped to stimulate communication among relevant stakeholders from different domains in the region, which is necessary to create mutual understanding and joint targeted action. Finally, the challenges related to the applied transdisciplinary Bayesian modeling approach are discussed in the Chinese context. View Full-Text
Keywords: water pricing; water use efficiency; Bayesian network modeling; causal networks; transdisciplinary research water pricing; water use efficiency; Bayesian network modeling; causal networks; transdisciplinary research
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Mamitimin, Y.; Feike, T.; Doluschitz, R. Bayesian Network Modeling to Improve Water Pricing Practices in Northwest China. Water 2015, 7, 5617-5637.

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