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Water 2016, 8(8), 333; doi:10.3390/w8080333

Assessment of Water Rights and Irrigation Pricing Reforms in Heihe River Basin in China

Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
China Center for Agricultural Policy, School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, No 5, Yiheyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100871, China
Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Y. Jun Xu, Guangxin Zhang and Hongyan Li
Received: 31 May 2016 / Revised: 19 July 2016 / Accepted: 21 July 2016 / Published: 5 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tackling Complex Water Problems in China under Changing Environment)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [626 KB, uploaded 5 August 2016]   |  


The purpose of this paper is to understand the progress of water rights and irrigation pricing reform in Heihe River Basin (HRB) and their influence on irrigation application. The data came from a village and household level survey conducted in 2009 and 2014 in five counties in Zhangye City, HRB. The main component of reforming water rights was issuing water certificates to individual farmers. However, the share of villages that have done so dropped from 70% in 2004 to 28% in 2014. Water pricing reform raised the price of water. For the pricing of surface water, which consists of an area-based fee and a volumetric price, the volumetric price was increased. Econometric results show that amending water rights substantially reduced irrigation application in the early stage of reform (by 2009) but not in the later phase (by 2014). In contrast, higher water prices lowered irrigation applications significantly at both the early and later stages. Further analysis indicates that due to ineffective implementation, high cost of implementation due to large number of farmers, variations in water supply from year to year, and small farm sizes, little benefit is gained from trading. All of these factors played a role in the failure of water rights reforms. View Full-Text
Keywords: water rights reform; irrigation pricing reform; irrigation application; Zhangye City in Heihe River Basin; China water rights reform; irrigation pricing reform; irrigation application; Zhangye City in Heihe River Basin; China

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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Sun, T.; Wang, J.; Huang, Q.; Li, Y. Assessment of Water Rights and Irrigation Pricing Reforms in Heihe River Basin in China. Water 2016, 8, 333.

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