According to the newly introduced water resources management in China, which is the most stringent thus far, pollution limits of water functional zones should be enhanced. In response to this recent change, we propose a provincial initial water rights incentive allocation model with total pollutant discharge constraint. Firstly, three objective functions are set up, namely the maximum comprehensive economic benefits of basin, the optimal fairness and coordination of the provincial pollutant discharge rights, and the minimum losses of basin ecological environment. Based on the objective functions and constraint of total pollutant discharge, we put forward a multiple-objective provincial initial pollutant discharge rights allocation model with a self-adaptive chaotic optimization algorithm. Secondly, according to the incentive mechanism of rewarding excellence and punishing inferiority, we establish a provincial initial water rights allocation model with an incentive function which includes the amount of provincial initial pollutant discharge. Finally, we select the Taihu Basin as a case study to describe the methodology. Under water frequencies of 50%, 75%, and 90%, the empirical results of provincial initial water rights allocation of the Taihu Basin in 2030 show that Jiangsu Province will obtain the most initial water rights, followed by Zhejiang Province and Shanghai city. The incentive allocation model of the provincial initial water rights is effective and the algorithm is feasible. The model may help to assure the most stringent water resources management strategies that are effectively carried out in the Taihu Basin.
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