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Peer-Review Record

An Improved Ecological Footprint Method for Water Resources Utilization Assessment in the Cities

Water 2020, 12(2), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020503
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Water 2020, 12(2), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020503
Received: 12 December 2019 / Revised: 20 January 2020 / Accepted: 4 February 2020 / Published: 12 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Water Use and Scarcity)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

Table 1: It would be easier to follow if the values presented in columns "Area" to "Rainfall" will be presented in the format of Percentage, e.g.
(Area of Jinan / Total Area) %

 

Page 13- Line 369: Any specific reason that Zhengzhou, Zibo, and Dongying have the smallest values? The results section should be generally expanded by adding the interpretation of the presented plots.

 

Page 14- Line 387: The limitations of the works and potential future improvements should be added to this section.

 

 

 

 

Author Response

RESPONSES TO REVIEWER 1#’S COMMENTS

We are grateful to Reviewer #1 and the editor for their careful and insightful review. Their comments and suggestions have contributed much to improving the paper. According to the suggestions, we have made a number of revisions as follows:

Point 1#

Comment: Table 1: It would be easier to follow if the values presented in columns "Area" to "Rainfall" will be presented in the format of Percentage, e.g. 
(Area of Jinan / Total Area) %

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Area has been presented in the format of Percentage, while other parameters represent the situation of each city, keeping the original form

 

Point 2#

Comment: Page 13- Line 369: Any specific reason that Zhengzhou, Zibo, and Dongying have the smallest values? The results section should be generally expanded by adding the interpretation of the presented plots

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. This is related to the industrial structure. The proportion of primary industry in GDP of Zhengzhou, Dongying, and Zibo is the lowest in the study area, with the values of 2.0%, 3.4%,3.5%, while other city among 7.1-17.7%.

 

 

Point 3 #

Comment: Page 14- Line 387: The limitations of the works and potential future improvements should be added to this section.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Added suggestion “Therefore, the discharge of agricultural pollutants should be controlled, and water-saving irrigation technology should be used.”

 

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 2 Report

GENERAL COMMENTS

The manuscript is attempting to do something very useful but is not effectively articulated and fails to make some basic distinctions or definitions clear.  There are numerous examples—see specific comments below.  One basic (yet very important) distinction is completely missing from the manuscript: water use vs. water consumption—these terms do not have the same meaning at all, and yet they are used interchangeably in a manuscript that is attempting to lay out a framework for evaluating the sustainability of water resources.

The methods section needs to be reexamined and reworded significantly, with particular attention explaining equations and terms, and also providing some kind of verification or evaluation of the accuracy of statistics from government reports (which have been notoriously inaccurate in China).

Is there some reason why the years 2013-2017 or the selected administrative areas were chosen for this study?

The discussion and conclusions section is extremely weak. The authors need to place the findings within a broader context (e.g. see the comment below about the likely changes in Yellow River flow due to global climate change), and describe the significance of findings. The authors should also comment on to what extent decreasing water pollution can “offset” increased water usage and consumption because that seems to be what is happening to reduce the ecological deficit during the time period included in this study.

 

Lines 51-54: this definition of WREF makes no sense to me, and I am a water resources professional! Please consider rewording this sentence in a much simpler manner or dividing into two sentences.  Take care to define WREF. Then contrast it with EF and water footprint.

Line 58: include should be includes

Lines 59-60: please define what is meant by soil water; are soil water and soil moisture the same?

Lines 60-61: soil water is only available to plants and not directly recoverable by humans?

Line 62: soil water may contain pollutants, and the soil may also have had soluble pollutants deposited in it that may be picked up and transported by soil water

Lines 76-77: there is not to my knowledge sustainable use of water resources anywhere in industrial society, so therefore the “status quo of the sustainable use of water resources” does not exist.  Perhaps the authors mean to define the intensity of water resource use that would be sustainable?

Lines 78-79: it is unclear what is meant by “poor in water resources”—is this in relation to the demand for water by humans living in the Yellow River basin and/or the natural demand for water?  Removing “poor in water resources” from this sentence is the best thing to do.

Lines 82-3: is there some reason or rationale behind the selection of these particular 17 cities?

Line 83: please use commas in large numbers? 12,171,513

Line 84: please give ranges for temperatures in addition to the annual average-what is meant by high temperature?

Page 3, Figure 1: does the Yellow River have any significant tributaries that flow through the 17 cities and into the Yellow River—are these worth mapping?  The light blue in the lower map looks like the default selection color in a GIS software—this color has poor contrast with the background white—please use a darker blue color to symbolize the river, which would be consistent with the upper map.

Page 3, Table 1: use commas for numbers larger than 999 (hectares)?  A space is needed between 10,000 and people (10,000 people) as well as between 100 and million and yuan (100 million yuan)

Page 4, line 93: how accurate are these water resources Bulletins?  Have the authors considered or attempted to verify the accuracy of these sources?  The Chinese government is well-known for having misrepresented economic and environmental data for decades; there is at least one paper the authors should consult: Brombal, D. 2017: Accuracy of Environmental Reporting in China: Exploring the Influence of Institutional, Political, and Ideological Factors. Sustainability. 9, 324; doi: 10.3390/su9030324.

Page 5, line 112: The first sentence does not make sense. WREF cannot transform water into land. It is impossible.

Page 5, line 118: dilution to a standard of water consumption?  Dilution to a standard suitable for different types of water uses or consumption?

Page 5, lines 119-120: how does this conversion take place—can this be explained in a more understandable manner?  Also, “cause some damage to water resources” –what is the point of stating this?  Different contaminants are associated with different types of “damage”, and not all can be relieved by dilution.

Page 5, line 120: the last sentence in this paragraph does not make sense and should be removed.

Page 5, line 126: ecological should not be capitalized; COD (like any abbreviation) must be spelled out the first time it is used in a manuscript

Page 5, line 129: there are actually four aspects of WCEF listed here; the use of the word “production” is strange-it does apply nicely to agricultural and industrial activities, but not really to domestic since there may be some “production” in a domestic sense but bathing and cooking are not generally called production?

Page 5-equations: are these the authors’ own equations or are they taken from other sources?

Page 5, line 132: why is it necessary to introduce global average productivity into this equation? None of the other equations have included a global factor such as this

Page 5, line 137: this equation is not consistent with the four aspects of WCEF defined above (“production water” was not one of the categories, unless this equation represents both industrial + agricultural water use?)

Page 6, lines 151-159: The discussion here is unclear. The term bio-production area is not one I am familiar with, and there does not seem to be any reason to include the global equilibrium factor (5.19). It does make sense that one would want to find a way to make different ecosystems comparable in some way, but this way of doing/explaining it is not convincing. 

Page 6, line 160: is this equation the authors’ own equation?

Page 6, lines 166-8: Have the authors considered the accuracy of the data from the Shandong statistical yearbook?   “calculation formula of agricultural pollutants” should be stated instead as: “the formula for calculating agricultural pollution”

Page 6, line 171: the word “emissions” is usually used to refer to air pollution; effluent or runoff would usually be used to refer to water pollution

Page 7, lines 171-7: is it assumed that all pollutants are the same?  This is a poor assumption because some pollutants still have extremely dangerous impacts even at very small concentrations (parts per trillion or less).  What pollutants are being considered (I see only COD and ammonia-N mentioned but what about the many other agricultural pollutants and the hundreds or thousands of industrial pollutants)? What impacts are being considered (e.g. eutrophication, toxic microorganism blooms, endocrine disruption, antibiotic resistance, ecotoxicity…?)

Page 7, lines 178-180: complete degradation by nature does not work for all (or many) contaminants. It would help to know if the universe of all water contaminants is being referred to or if only some contaminants are being referred to.  For example, natural processes generally do degrade available forms of nitrogen; phosphorus on the other hand is usually bound to sediment and depending upon the water body may sink to the bottom and be resuspended with storms or turbulence (and thus not degraded or deactivated).

Page 7, lines 182-183: are all water quality target concentrations the same for every pollutant in every water body? How is this complexity to be dealt with adequately? What is meant by the V water quality?

Page 7, lines 192-193: this needs to be restated…for example: the WRCC is a means of calculating under what conditions regional water resources can be used or consumed sustainably.

Page 7, lines 196-199: the definitions of terms in equation 11 is incomplete; for example there is no definition of P, and there is a lowercase phi in equation 11 but an uppercase phi in the text explanation below.

Page 7, lines 210-211: “rich in iron” is not an adequate description of soil type (see the Soil Type Database of China for more adequate soil descriptions). The iron content is not a major determining factor in soil porosity or the connectivity of soil pores. Also, wouldn’t soil compaction and coverage with impervious surfaces significantly affect the volumetric water content of soils, especially in an urban agglomeration (are these factors, compaction and impervious cover, considered?)?

Page 8, line 229: scarcity is a word that makes sense here; safety is not-do the authors mean to use a word that means the opposite of scarcity?

Page 8, line 246: the word “difficulty” is not really appropriate here—do the authors mean to state whether future water resources development would be restricted?

Page 9, Table 2: the descriptions under “Water Use” and “Water Resources Development Conditions” are not clear. What does high vs. low mean?  Doesn’t the load index already take into account water use in a given region?  The descriptions under development conditions are strange-for example, transferring water from another basin is an option to address a major imbalance between water resources usage and availability. The other descriptors indicate how difficult it would be to further develop and exploit water resources. These do not match…

Page 9, lines 261-265: are these calculated changes depicted in figure 3 significant?  Would it be possible to increase the font size in Figure 3 so that it is more legible?

Page 10, first paragraph: again, only two types of contamination are mentioned (but COD has never been defined in the paper). COD is not a single pollutant, however. The authors should take care to find out what COD means.  It is not clear why phosphorus is excluded from discussion because it is found in large amounts in all the pollution sources mentioned by the authors.

Page 10, figure 5: the discussion of WREF and WRCC make sense; however, the y axis title (“average of PCCWREF and PCWRCC”) does not make sense. Do the authors mean “comparison” rather than “average”?

Page 11, line 297: Figure 8 is discussed out of order (or Figure 8 should be renumbered Figure 6?)

Page 11, line 300: There is a small city called “China” in Texas (United States), but is there a city called “Texas” in China?

Page 11, lines 302-304: Is there more than just breeding of animals happening in Dezhoua—are the animals being raised for meat, milk, etc?  If so, perhaps the term “animal agriculture industry” would be more descriptive than “breeding industry”

Page 11, Figure 6: the use of lines connecting average PCWREF is inappropriate as it implies there is a temporal relationship depicted in the figure, which is not the case; same comment with regard to Figures 7 and 8

Page 12: Figure 8: What does “industrial living pollutants” mean?  Would it be simpler to call these industrial pollutants?

Page 12, line 324: delete: “,presenting a declining state.”

Page 12, lines 325-330: the regional carrying capacity is generally beyond the capacity of humans to change (without major engineering projects, which themselves are unlikely to be sustainable)…so PCWREF is what must be focused on anyway!   It is probably true that reducing PCWREF will lead to more sustainable use of water resources; however, the authors should also consider that due to human induced climate change the source (glaciers) of the Yellow River is likely to be significantly depleted in the coming decades, and so the PCWRCC may actually increase for a few years but then decline perhaps precipitously as the glacier resource shrinks. Thus, the PCWREF will need to be reduced even more to accommodate for a likely declining PCWRCC.

Page 14, lines 378-379: transferring water from another basin is one option, but so is changing the local/regional water use or consumption

Page 14, line 389: soil water is indeed a resource but the authors should indicate how much it contributes to the discussion (compared to other water resources)—this would lend some significance to including soil water…much more than simply stating that it is significant.

 

 

Author Response

Manuscript Number: water-679803

 

RESPONSES TO REVIEWER 2#’S COMMENTS

We are grateful to Reviewer #2 and the editor for their careful and insightful review. Their comments and suggestions have contributed much to improving the paper. According to the suggestions, we have made a number of revisions as follows:

Point 1#

Comment: Is there some reason why the years 2013-2017 or the selected administrative areas were chosen for this study?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. First, the amount of water resources in the Yellow River Basin is relatively scarce, and there is less production flow in the downstream areas. Therefore, cities along the lower Yellow River were selected to reflect the water use in the areas along the lower Yellow River. Second, the latest five-year data are selected to reflect current water use Situation.

 

Point 2#

Comment: The discussion and conclusions section is extremely weak. The authors need to place the findings within a broader context (e.g. see the comment below about the likely changes in Yellow River flow due to global climate change), and describe the significance of findings. The authors should also comment on to what extent decreasing water pollution can “offset” increased water usage and consumption because that seems to be what is happening to reduce the ecological deficit during the time period included in this study.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. To strong the discussion and conclusions section, the suggestions have been added” Therefore, the discharge of agricultural pollutants should be controlled, and water-saving irrigation technology should be used.” and” The state of the ecological deficit needs to be improved, especially in areas with severe ecological deficits. Therefore, the water resources ecological footprint should be reduced, industrial adjustments should be increased, enterprises that water consume or polluting severely should be controlled, or engineering technology should be improved to achieve it.”

 

 

Point 3#

Comment: Lines 51-54: this definition of WREF makes no sense to me, and I am a water resources professional! Please consider rewording this sentence in a much simpler manner or dividing into two sentences.  Take care to define WREF. Then contrast it with EF and water footprint.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Added in the text: WREF converts the amount of water resources consumed into a uniform land area according to certain rules.

WREF is a supplement account of EF, which is used to describe the ecological environment and socioeconomic functions of water resources.

Point 4#

Comment: Line 58: include should be includes

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I have replaced the word include with the word includes

 

Point 5#

Comment: Lines 59-60:please define what is meant by soil water; are soil water and soil moisture the same?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Soil water generally refers to the water in the soil, while soil moisture is one of the ways to express soil water

Point 6#

Comment: Lines 60-61: oil water is only available to plants and not directly recoverable by humans?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Groundwater and streamflow are directly used by humans. Plants use soil water that does not itself contribute to groundwater recharge or streamflow. (From the article “plants use soil water that does not itself contribute to groundwater recharge or streamflow”).

 

Point 7#

Comment: Line 62: soil water may contain pollutants, and the soil may also have had soluble pollutants deposited in it that may be picked up and transported by soil water

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. There was an error in the English expression, the original meaning was to explain the role of soil water in dissolving pollutants, so it was changed to "The soluble pollutants deposited in the soil may be picked up and transported by the soil water "

Point 8#

Comment: Lines 76-77: there is not to my knowledge sustainable use of water resources anywhere in industrial society, so therefore the “status quo of the sustainable use of water resources” does not exist.  Perhaps the authors mean to define the intensity of water resource use that would be sustainable?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I mean to know the sustainability of water resources in the process of water resources utilization. so it was changed to” the status quo of the sustainable water resources”

Point 9#

Comment: Lines 78-79: it is unclear what is meant by “poor in water resources”—is this in relation to the demand for water by humans living in the Yellow River basin and/or the natural demand for water?  Removing “poor in water resources” from this sentence is the best thing to do.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. In order to avoid ambiguity, I have removed this sentence

 

Point 10#

Comment: Lines 82-3: is there some reason or rationale behind the selection of these particular 17 cities?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Cities along the lower Yellow River were selected to reflect the water use in the areas along the lower Yellow River.

 

Point 11#

Comment: Line 83: please use commas in large numbers? 12,171,513

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I have changed it into 12,171,513

 

Point 12#

Comment: Line 84: please give ranges for temperatures in addition to the annual average-what is meant by high temperature?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I have give ranges for temperatures due to the sentence “The temperature from May to September is 21.5-27.3 °C, December to February is -2.4-2.8 °C, the rest of the month is 7.1-15.7 °C.” The meant by high temperature can be know from that sentence, and I delete the sentence “The high temperature weather is concentrated from May to September,”

 

Point 13#

Comment: Page 3, Figure 1: does the Yellow River have any significant tributaries that flow through the 17 cities and into the Yellow River—are these worth mapping?  The light blue in the lower map looks like the default selection color in a GIS software—this color has poor contrast with the background white—please use a darker blue color to symbolize the river, which would be consistent with the upper map.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I have changed it.

 

Point 14#

Comment: Page 3, Table 1: use commas for numbers larger than 999 (hectares)?  A space is needed between 10,000 and people (10,000 people) as well as between 100 and million and yuan (100 million yuan)

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I have added the commas and space

 

Point 15#

Comment: Page 4, line 93: how accurate are these water resources Bulletins?  Have the authors considered or attempted to verify the accuracy of these sources?  The Chinese government is well-known for having misrepresented economic and environmental data for decades; there is at least one paper the authors should consult: Brombal, D. 2017: Accuracy of Environmental Reporting in China: Exploring the Influence of Institutional, Political, and Ideological Factors. Sustainability. 9, 324; doi: 10.3390/su9030324.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. The data is reconciled and published publicly.

 

Point 16#

Comment: Page 5, line 112: The first sentence does not make sense. WREF cannot transform water into land. It is impossible.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. My statement is biased, and I have change it into “WREF translates water resources into biologically productive areas necessary to produce it.”

 

Point 17#

Comment: Page 5, line 118: dilution to a standard of water consumption?  Dilution to a standard suitable for different types of water uses or consumption?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Yes, Dilution to a standard suitable for different types of water uses or consumption, and I change it into “the water quality ecological footprint refers to the dilution of pollutants to a certain water quality standard”

 

Point 18#

Comment: Page 5, lines 119-120: how does this conversion take place—can this be explained in a more understandable manner?  Also, “cause some damage to water resources” –what is the point of stating this?  Different contaminants are associated with different types of “damage”, and not all can be relieved by dilution.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Yes, I have change it into “Water resources is consumed by diluting and purifying Contaminants”

 

Point 19#

Comment: Page 5, line 120: the last sentence in this paragraph does not make sense and should be removed.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. It has been removed.

 

Point 20#

Comment: Page 5, line 126: ecological should not be capitalized; COD (like any abbreviation) must be spelled out the first time it is used in a manuscript

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Ecological has been not be capitalized. COD has been spelled out that “chemical oxygen demand (COD)”

 

Point 21#

Comment: Page 5, line 129: there are actually four aspects of WCEF listed here; the use of the word “production” is strange-it does apply nicely to agricultural and industrial activities, but not really to domestic since there may be some “production” in a domestic sense but bathing and cooking are not generally called production?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I have deleted the word “production”

 

Point 22#

Comment: Page 5-equations: are these the authors’ own equations or are they taken from other sources?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. They are taken from other sources

 

Point 23#

Comment: Page 5, line 132: why is it necessary to introduce global average productivity into this equation? None of the other equations have included a global factor such as this

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. It is necessary because the global average productivity can translate water resources consumption into biologically productive areas.

Point 24#

Comment: Page 5, line 137: this equation is not consistent with the four aspects of WCEF defined above (“production water” was not one of the categories, unless this equation represents both industrial + agricultural water use?)

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much.: Yse, and I have noted it in the article that “Production (Agricultural, and industrial), domestic, and ecological production”.

 

Point 25#

Comment: Page 6, lines 151-159: The discussion here is unclear. The term bio-production area is not one I am familiar with, and there does not seem to be any reason to include the global equilibrium factor (5.19). It does make sense that one would want to find a way to make different ecosystems comparable in some way, but this way of doing/explaining it is not convincing.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. WREF translates water resources into biologically productive areas necessary to produce it. It comes from the definition of EF.

 

Point 26#

Comment: Page 6, line 160: is this equation the authors’ own equation?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. No, it is taken from other sources.

 

Point 27#

Comment: Page 6, lines 166-8: Have the authors considered the accuracy of the data from the Shandong statistical yearbook?   “calculation formula of agricultural pollutants” should be stated instead as: “the formula for calculating agricultural pollution”

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. The data is reconciled and published publicly. I have changed“calculation formula of agricultural pollutants” to“the formula for calculating agricultural pollution”

 

Point 28#

Comment: Page 6, line 171: the word “emissions” is usually used to refer to air pollution; effluent or runoff would usually be used to refer to water pollution

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I have change “emissions” to “runoff”

 

Point 29#

Comment: Page 7, lines 171-7: is it assumed that all pollutants are the same?  This is a poor assumption because some pollutants still have extremely dangerous impacts even at very small concentrations (parts per trillion or less).  What pollutants are being considered (I see only COD and ammonia-N mentioned but what about the many other agricultural pollutants and the hundreds or thousands of industrial pollutants)? What impacts are being considered (e.g. eutrophication, toxic microorganism blooms, endocrine disruption, antibiotic resistance, ecotoxicity…?)

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. No, the pollutants are different value in the same water quality standard.  Unfortunately, only nitrogen and COD are considered in this article, and the corresponding data on other pollutants are lacking.

Point 30#

Comment: Page 7, lines 178-180: complete degradation by nature does not work for all (or many) contaminants. It would help to know if the universe of all water contaminants is being referred to or if only some contaminants are being referred to.  For example, natural processes generally do degrade available forms of nitrogen; phosphorus on the other hand is usually bound to sediment and depending upon the water body may sink to the bottom and be resuspended with storms or turbulence (and thus not degraded or deactivated).

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Yes, but only nitrogen and COD are considered in this article

 

Point 31#

Comment: Page 7, lines 182-183: are all water quality target concentrations the same for every pollutant in every water body? How is this complexity to be dealt with adequately? What is meant by the V water quality?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Different pollutants have different target concentrations and also it take into account the ability of different water bodies to accept pollutants. Refer to other people's articles and convert different water bodies receptiveness to . V is a water quality standard grade in China.

 

Point 32#

Comment: Page 7, lines 192-193: this needs to be restated…for example: the WRCC is a means of calculating under what conditions regional water resources can be used or consumed sustainably.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. It is changed to”The WRCC is a means of calculating the water resources supply ability that can supports to sustainably develop its resources, environment and society under certain development stages and technical management conditions.”

Point 33#

Comment: Page 7, lines 196-199: the definitions of terms in equation 11 is incomplete; for example there is no definition of P, and there is a lowercase phi in equation 11 but an uppercase phi in the text explanation below.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Variables not defined below this formula are defined above. I have changed the uppercase phi.

 

Point 34#

Comment: Page 7, lines 210-211: “rich in iron” is not an adequate description of soil type (see the Soil Type Database of China for more adequate soil descriptions). The iron content is not a major determining factor in soil porosity or the connectivity of soil pores. Also, wouldn’t soil compaction and coverage with impervious surfaces significantly affect the volumetric water content of soils, especially in an urban agglomeration (are these factors, compaction and impervious cover, considered?)?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. There is a deviation in the English expression of soil names, which has been changed to “ferrugenous soil”. Sorry for not considering soil compaction and coverage in different regions.

 

Point 35#

Comment: Page 8, line 229: scarcity is a word that makes sense here; safety is not-do the authors mean to use a word that means the opposite of scarcity?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Water safety means the water resources can sustain the scale of economic and social development and maintain the healthy development of the ecosystem.

 

Point 36#

Comment: Page 8, line 246: the word “difficulty” is not really appropriate here—do the authors mean to state whether future water resources development would be restricted?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. I have changed “difficulty” to “restrictions”

 

Point 37#

Comment: Page 9, Table 2: the descriptions under “Water Use” and “Water Resources Development Conditions” are not clear. What does high vs. low mean?  Doesn’t the load index already take into account water use in a given region?  The descriptions under development conditions are strange-for example, transferring water from another basin is an option to address a major imbalance between water resources usage and availability. The other descriptors indicate how difficult it would be to further develop and exploit water resources. These do not match…

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. “Water Use” is changed to “ Degree of water use”. “Need to transfer water from the outer basin” means that the region's water resources cannot meet its own needs and must be transferred from other places.

 

Point 38#

Comment: Page 9, lines 261-265: are these calculated changes depicted in figure 3 significant?  Would it be possible to increase the font size in Figure 3 so that it is more legible?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Yes, the font is set to the maximum value under the condition of beautiful appearance

 

Point 39#

Comment: Page 10, first paragraph: again, only two types of contamination are mentioned (but COD has never been defined in the paper). COD is not a single pollutant, however. The authors should take care to find out what COD means.  It is not clear why phosphorus is excluded from discussion because it is found in large amounts in all the pollution sources mentioned by the authors.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. COD has been defined. No accurate data is available on phosphorus emissions.

 

Point 40#

Comment: Page 10, figure 5: the discussion of WREF and WRCC make sense; however, the y axis title (“average of PCCWREF and PCWRCC”) does not make sense. Do the authors mean “comparison” rather than “average”?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. “average of PCCWREF and PCWRCC” reflects the overall situation of the region

 

Point 41#

Comment: Page 11, line 297: Figure 8 is discussed out of order (or Figure 8 should be renumbered Figure 6?)

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Figure 8 is discussed out of order

 

Point 42#

Comment: Page 11, line 300: There is a small city called “China” in Texas (United States), but is there a city called “Texas” in China?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Texas has benn changed to Dezhou

 

Point 43#

Comment: Page 11, lines 302-304: Is there more than just breeding of animals happening in Dezhoua—are the animals being raised for meat, milk, etc?  If so, perhaps the term “animal agriculture industry” would be more descriptive than “breeding industry”

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. yes, “breeding industry” has been change to “animal agriculture industry”

 

Point 44#

Comment: Page 11, Figure 6: the use of lines connecting average PCWREF is inappropriate as it implies there is a temporal relationship depicted in the figure, which is not the case; same comment with regard to Figures 7 and 8

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. The use of lines can represent changes in time, as well as changes in space, such as contour line.

Point 45#

Comment: Page 12: Figure 8: What does “industrial living pollutants” mean?  Would it be simpler to call these industrial pollutants?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. “industrial living pollutants” has been changed to “industrial and domestic pollutants”

 

Point 46#

Comment: Page 12, line 324: delete: “,presenting a declining state.”

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. “, presenting a declining state.” has been deleted:

 

Point 47#

Comment: Page 12, lines 325-330: the regional carrying capacity is generally beyond the capacity of humans to change (without major engineering projects, which themselves are unlikely to be sustainable)…so PCWREF is what must be focused on anyway!   It is probably true that reducing PCWREF will lead to more sustainable use of water resources; however, the authors should also consider that due to human induced climate change the source (glaciers) of the Yellow River is likely to be significantly depleted in the coming decades, and so the PCWRCC may actually increase for a few years but then decline perhaps precipitously as the glacier resource shrinks. Thus, the PCWREF will need to be reduced even more to accommodate for a likely declining PCWRCC

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Yes, the PCWREF may been changed.

 

Point 48#

Comment: Page 14, lines 378-379: transferring water from another basin is one option, but so is changing the local/regional water use or consumption

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. transferring water from another basin may be a good way if water consumption cannot be changed in a short time。

 

Point 49#

Comment: Page 14, line 389: soil water is indeed a resource but the authors should indicate how much it contributes to the discussion (compared to other water resources)—this would lend some significance to including soil water…much more than simply stating that it is significant.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Soil water is about 7 times that of other water resources

 

 

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 3 Report

The paper is a very good one. It's interesting and it takes a good step in order to analyse a future problem with water resources due to pollution and another problems.

Authors should improve the conclusion and also I would like to see not only an analysis of the situation but a good discussion of it.

 

First, conclusion is too short, and does not explain the main interest of this research. What's the problem analysed, the methodology used byt the authors and the main results found. In addition, it would be interesting to include policy recommendations.

 

Second, point 3 it's too descriptive, authors describe the situation without any type of analysis about why the situation is how it is nowadays or the probems it will face in the future. Authors should find the parts of the analysis that are too descriptive and try to go beyond.

Finally, as a minor comment, authors should include a final paragraph at the end of introduction to explain, briefly, what they are going to do in next sections. It will ease the reading of its paper.

 

 

Author Response

RESPONSES TO REVIEWER 3#’S COMMENTS

We are grateful to Reviewer #3 and the editor for their careful and insightful review. Their comments and suggestions have contributed much to improving the paper. According to the suggestions, we have made a number of revisions as follows:

Point 1#

Comment: First, conclusion is too short, and does not explain the main interest of this research. What's the problem analysed, the methodology used byt the authors and the main results found. In addition, it would be interesting to include policy recommendations.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. The essay constructs an assessment model of the water resources ecological footprint and water resources carrying capacity. And added the suggestions” Therefore, the discharge of agricultural pollutants should be controlled, and water-saving irrigation technology should be used.” and ” The state of the ecological deficit needs to be improved, especially in areas with severe ecological deficits. Therefore, the water resources ecological footprint should be reduced, industrial adjustments should be increased, enterprises that water consume or polluting severely should be controlled, or engineering technology should be improved to achieve it.”

 

Point 2#

Comment: Second, point 3 it's too descriptive, authors describe the situation without any type of analysis about why the situation is how it is nowadays or the probems it will face in the future. Authors should find the parts of the analysis that are too descriptive and try to go beyond.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Add suggestion in point 3 “The state of the ecological deficit needs to be improved, especially in areas with severe ecological deficits. Therefore, the water resources ecological footprint should be reduced, industrial adjustments should be increased, enterprises that water consume or polluting severely should be controlled, or engineering technology should be improved to achieve it.”

 

Point 3#

Comment: Finally, as a minor comment, authors should include a final paragraph at the end of introduction to explain, briefly, what they are going to do in next sections. It will ease the reading of its paper.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. At the end of introduction ,”Therefore, in the research, taking the lower reaches of the Yellow River as an example and analyzing the water resources utilization in this area, the research aims to achieve the following: (1) Improve the calculation method of ecological footprint and water resources carrying capacity in the lower reaches of the Yellow River; (2) Construct an evaluation index system for water resources utilization in the Lower Yellow River, based on an improved calculation method; and (3) Evaluate the utilization of water resources in the lower Yellow River comprehensively, from the perspective of time and space.” has explain what they are going to do.

 

 

 

Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Round 2

Reviewer 2 Report

The authors have made significant improvements to the original submission and should be commended for having done this.

 

There are a few remaining issues with the resubmission: 

1) When queried as to whether the equations in the manuscript are the authors' own or whether they are from other sources, the authors indicated that they are from other sources but did not identify the source in their cover letter or (as far as I can tell) in the resubmission. If the authors take an equation from another source but do not identify the source this amounts to plagiarism.  There are 17 formulas in the manuscript; we need to know sources...

2) The whole paper discusses water consumption, water use, and water pollution in the lower Yellow River Basin and comments (very briefly) at the end about the future trajectory needed to make water resource utilization more sustainable.  This is the "demand side" of water resources. There is also a "supply side"--I do not believe that one can make intelligent conclusions about the demand side and how it needs to change without knowing and writing about the supply side.  So, the authors need to comment on the source water (glaciers) and contributing watersheds and whether climate change is likely to disrupt the supply, or change precipitation patterns and whether any such changes have been noted to date.  Is it safe to assume that the same amount of water will be available to the lower Yellow River basin as is currently available? Will it be more? Less?

3) That water pollution and water consumption should both be reduced is quite obvious. The more interesting questions are: how much? How fast?

4) The authors' reply regarding Point #18 still does not make sense. Water consumption occurs when water is utilized and not returned to the original body of water (the source)--dilution usually represents a case of water use, and not of water consumption.

5) The authors' reply regarding point #37 still is unsatisfactory.  The critique of Table 2 relates to the fact that the words used to describe the water resource development conditions are all similar except "need to transfer from outside the basin". Every other word describes some increasing level of difficulty; the category at the top does not describe a level of difficulty but prescribes an action. It may be that this seems like the only possible action, but even if that is the only case, none of the other rows contain actions and so this is inconsistent.

6) It is not the authors' fault that they are forced by the globalization of academia to publish in English. Despite the change made regarding point #27, there are several other instances of "calculation formula" in the manuscript.  The formulas should be referred to simply as "formula" or as "formula for calculating".

 

Author Response

Manuscript Number: water-679803R1

 

RESPONSES TO REVIEWER 2#’S COMMENTS

We are grateful to Reviewer #2 and the editor for their careful and insightful review. Their comments and suggestions have contributed much to improving the paper. According to the suggestions, we have made a number of revisions as follows:

Comment:The authors have made significant improvements to the original submission and should be commended for having done this.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much.

 

Comment:When queried as to whether the equations in the manuscript are the authors' own or whether they are from other sources, the authors indicated that they are from other sources but did not identify the source in their cover letter or (as far as I can tell) in the resubmission. If the authors take an equation from another source but do not identify the source this amounts to plagiarism.  There are 17 formulas in the manuscript; we need to know sources...

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. In the research, we apply the theory and methods of water resources ecological footprint (WREF),and these formulas are from different references, for example, references13-19, reference 26-28 .we have noted the references in the revised manuscript. We integrated water quality , water quantity and soil water in the WREF and developed the method of WREF.

 

Comment:The whole paper discusses water consumption, water use, and water pollution in the lower Yellow River Basin and comments (very briefly) at the end about the future trajectory needed to make water resource utilization more sustainable.  This is the "demand side" of water resources. There is also a "supply side"--I do not believe that one can make intelligent conclusions about the demand side and how it needs to change without knowing and writing about the supply side.  So, the authors need to comment on the source water (glaciers) and contributing watersheds and whether climate change is likely to disrupt the supply, or change precipitation patterns and whether any such changes have been noted to date.  Is it safe to assume that the same amount of water will be available to the lower Yellow River basin as is currently available? Will it be more? Less?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. In the research, we didn’t use water supply-demand balance to assess the water resources, and we use WREF method which integrated the supply and demand system of water resources indirectly. The method is shown in the part “2.2.3.4 Water resources load index”.we just assess the results of 2013-2017 and their trends. Due to the results, we give some suggestions.

 

Comment:That water pollution and water consumption should both be reduced is quite obvious. The more interesting questions are: how much? How fast?

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. We have not calculate them. But when they can meet the good thresholds using these formula, we can think water pollution and water consumption are reasonable.

 

Comment:The authors' reply regarding Point #18 still does not make sense. Water consumption occurs when water is utilized and not returned to the original body of water (the source)--dilution usually represents a case of water use, and not of water consumption.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Your understand is right.In WREF theory, dilution usually represents a case of water pollution ecological footprint.

 

Comment:The authors' reply regarding point #37 still is unsatisfactory.  The critique of Table 2 relates to the fact that the words used to describe the water resource development conditions are all similar except "need to transfer from outside the basin". Every other word describes some increasing level of difficulty; the category at the top does not describe a level of difficulty but prescribes an action. It may be that this seems like the only possible action, but even if that is the only case, none of the other rows contain actions and so this is inconsistent.

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. We agree your view.we revised the water resources development conditions. “Need to transfer water from the outer ”is revised to “Very tough”. when it is very tough, the local water can not meet the demand.

 

 

Comment: It is not the authors' fault that they are forced by the globalization of academia to publish in English. Despite the change made regarding point #27, there are several other instances of "calculation formula" in the manuscript.  The formulas should be referred to simply as "formula" or as "formula for calculating".

Response: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment very much. Although we use MDPI English editing, there are still some terms that are not standardized. We have revised the "calculation formula" to "formula".

Round 3

Reviewer 2 Report

Revisions look good...

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