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Water 2017, 9(9), 687; doi:10.3390/w9090687

Virtual Water Flows at the County Level in the Heihe River Basin, China

Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 June 2017 / Revised: 1 September 2017 / Accepted: 5 September 2017 / Published: 14 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Water Management within Inland River Watershed)
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Water scarcity in arid regions can be addressed by using the virtual water concept in water resources management. This research used a compiled county-level input–output table to analyze virtual water flows for the Heihe River Basin in 2012 by applying a multi-regional input–output (MRIO) model. The results showed that the Heihe River Basin is a net virtual water exporter at a scale of 1.05 billion m3, which accounts for one third of the total amount of the basin’s water resources. The midstream area of the basin imports 96.31% of virtual water (2.04 billion m3) and exports 88.84% of virtual water (0.94 billion m3). In contrast, the upstream and downstream parts have limited virtual water flows. The agricultural sector largely consumes water in each county; maize or wheat production accounts for approximately 50% of the total water consumption. For most sectors, the virtual water content from surface water is greater than that from groundwater. The ratio of virtual surface water to virtual groundwater ranges from 1.20 to 2.91. The results for the water stress index indicated that most counties experienced water stress due to maize production. Greater attention needs to be paid to the adaptation and assessment of virtual water strategies in arid regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: virtual water; multi-regional input–output model; water stress index; Heihe River Basin virtual water; multi-regional input–output model; water stress index; Heihe River Basin

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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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Zhang, Y.; Zhou, Q.; Wu, F. Virtual Water Flows at the County Level in the Heihe River Basin, China. Water 2017, 9, 687.

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