As water trading has become increasingly used to optimize the allocation of water resources, it has become necessary to transfer agricultural water allocations for economic development and ecological environmental uses by way of water rights trading. In this paper, we constructed an example water rights trading model in the arid oasis area of Shihezi Irrigation District (located in Northwest China), using the field investigation method and governmental water management decisions based on the systems theory of the agricultural water savings–economy–ecological environment. Furthermore, focusing on the added industrial value produced by trading water, the value of the ecological services provided by fresh water, the negative value of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and the negative ecological value of reduced fertilizer application, a quantitative analysis was carried out using the Shihezi Irrigation District as an example. The results showed that under the most stringent water resource management plan and with the objective of returning land and reducing water, the irrigation area can save 52,504,500 m3
of surplus water from the agricultural sector, of which 49,879,300 m3
can be reallocated to the industrial sector and 2,625,200 m3
can be reallocated to the ecological sector. Using the water rights transaction method, this regional agricultural water saving could generate an industrial benefit equal to 35,024,300 yuan, an ecosystem service equal to 19,482,200 yuan, and an overall benefit equal to 54,420,500 yuan. The water rights trading model proposed in this paper for an arid oasis areas can provide a reference for other arid areas, helping to achieve the sustainable economic development of the economic and ecological environments in arid oasis areas through water rights trading.
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