Special Issue "Large-scale Water Projects, Socio-economic Development, and Environmental Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Bellie Sivakumar
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400076, India
Tel. +91-22-25767331
Interests: hydrology; water resources engineering; climate change impacts; complexity; nonlinear dynamics; chaos; fractals; complex networks
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For over a century, large-scale water projects (e.g. dams) have been playing a vital role in meeting our various water demands and socio-economic development. In recent decades, however, there have been increasing concerns about their negative impacts on our environment and on the socio-economic fabric of the affected people. As a result, there are now serious debates on the role and future of large-scale water projects in our societies. Among the key questions are: (1) Would it be possible to sustain our socio-economic development without the construction of new large-scale water projects, especially in the face of the projected growth in the population and the anticipated impacts of global climate change? (2) How would the existing and new projects impact our hydrologic, environmental, ecologic, social, political, and economic systems? (3) What are the major challenges in developing and implementing proper short-term emergency measures and long-term management strategies to prevent, or at least mitigate, the damages due to large-scale water projects? and (4) What are the existing technologies/frameworks and potential future ones that can possibly help overcome these challenges, and how? This Special Issue aims to provide a common platform for compiling important recent and current research on these topics. Manuscripts that address any aspects associated with large-scale water projects are welcome. Manuscripts that attempt to offer a broader framework that addresses these questions in an integrated manner, with due consideration to future societal and technological changes, are particularly encouraged.

Prof. Dr. Bellie Sivakumar
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Large-scale water projects
  • Dams
  • Socio-economic development
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Climate change impacts
  • Transboundary water management

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Large Dams in Promoting Economic Development under the Pressure of Population Growth
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2965; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102965 - 24 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The close relationship between large dams and social development (i.e., water, food, and energy consumption) has been revealed in previous studies, and the vital role of large dams in sustaining societies has been recognized. With population projections indicating continued growth during this century, [...] Read more.
The close relationship between large dams and social development (i.e., water, food, and energy consumption) has been revealed in previous studies, and the vital role of large dams in sustaining societies has been recognized. With population projections indicating continued growth during this century, it is expected that further economic development of society, e.g., Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, will be greatly affected by possible challenges, such as water, food, and energy shortages in the future, especially if proper planning, development, and management strategies are not adopted. In our previous study, we have argued that construction of additional large dams will be considered as one of the best available options to meet future increases in water, food, and energy demands, which are all crucial to sustain economic development. In the present study, firstly, we will emphasize the vital role of dams in promoting economic growth through analyzing the relationship between large dam development and GDP growth at both global and national scales. Secondly, based on the projection results of future large dam development, we will preliminarily predict the future economic development represented by GDP. The results show that the impacts of large dams upon GDP are more significant in countries with higher levels of socioeconomic development, which generally supports large dams as the vital factor to promote economic development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Development of the Athens Water Supply System and Inferences for Optimizing the Scale of Water Infrastructures
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2657; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092657 - 09 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Modern organized societies require robust infrastructures, among which hydraulic projects, such as water supply and drainage systems, are most important, particularly in water-scarce areas. Athens is a unique example because it is a big city (population 3.7 million) located in a very dry [...] Read more.
Modern organized societies require robust infrastructures, among which hydraulic projects, such as water supply and drainage systems, are most important, particularly in water-scarce areas. Athens is a unique example because it is a big city (population 3.7 million) located in a very dry area. In order to support the development of the city, large hydraulic projects had to be constructed during its history and, as a result, Athens currently has one of the largest water supply systems in the world. Could Athenians choose smaller scale infrastructures instead? Analyzing social, technical and economical historical data, we can see that large capital investments were required. In order to evaluate these investments this paper presents a technical summary of the development. An economic analysis displays historical values of these investments in present monetary values. The cost of existing infrastructure is compared to the cost of constructing smaller reservoirs and a model is created to correlate the price of water and the cost of water storage with the size of reservoirs. In particular, if more and smaller reservoirs were built instead of the large existing ones, the cost of the water would significantly increase, as illustrated by modelling the cost using local data. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Domestic Socioeconomic Barriers to Hydropower Trading: Evidence from Bhutan and Nepal
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 2062; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11072062 - 07 Apr 2019
Abstract
Bhutan has increased exports of surplus hydropower generation, whereas Nepal has been suffering from domestic power shortages. Why has Bhutan successfully promoted hydropower development and exports, while Nepal has failed to do so? This paper focuses on inherent development barriers that stem from [...] Read more.
Bhutan has increased exports of surplus hydropower generation, whereas Nepal has been suffering from domestic power shortages. Why has Bhutan successfully promoted hydropower development and exports, while Nepal has failed to do so? This paper focuses on inherent development barriers that stem from domestic power supply, internal governance systems, and indigenous societal sensitivity. There are lessons to be learned from Bhutan’s practices that could be applied in Nepal. First, hydropower development can be severely affected by electricity scarcity that arises when power export is privileged over domestic power supply. Nepal has fallen into this negative loop, whereas Bhutan has overcome it through policy interventions that ensure visible links between power exports and domestic power consumption. Second, the sector reforms in the two countries contrast in terms of institutional, operational, and financial efficiency. Without fundamental reforms, Nepal’s sector-wide inefficiency fuels a vicious circle. Third, local resource conflicts and social complexities have made Nepal’s hydropower projects more complicated than Bhutan’s. In planning hydropower projects, it is crucial to pay careful attention to domestic stakeholders and local benefits. Planners and governments must ensure that projects are designed with extensive benefit sharing mechanisms, sustainable value chains, effective sector reforms, and sufficient societal conflict management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impacts of Inter-Basin Water Transfer Projects on Optimal Water Resources Allocation in the Hanjiang River Basin, China
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 2044; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11072044 - 06 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Inter-basin water transfer project is an effective engineering countermeasure to alleviate the pressure of water supply in water-deficient areas and balance the uneven distribution of water resources. To assess the impacts of inter-basin water transfer projects on optimal water resources allocation, an integrated [...] Read more.
Inter-basin water transfer project is an effective engineering countermeasure to alleviate the pressure of water supply in water-deficient areas and balance the uneven distribution of water resources. To assess the impacts of inter-basin water transfer projects on optimal water resources allocation, an integrated water resources management framework is proposed, and is applied to the middle and lower reaches of the Hanjiang River Basin in China. Firstly, future water demands are analyzed as inputs. Then, a multi-objective water resources allocation model is formulated mitigating the negative impacts of water transfer projects on downstream water quantity and quality by using the non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm-II (NSGA-II). Finally, the indicators of water supply reliability, vulnerability and resilience are evaluated under different scenarios of inter-basin water transfer projects. The results indicate that: (1) the reliability and resilience of the water donor system will be gradually reduced while the vulnerability will be increased with the expansion of water transfer projects and the increase of water demand, (2) water supply risk is likely to increase in all zones (because zones at the boundary cannot obtain sufficient water due to limitations of local inflow and reservoir operation, while the amount of water available in the zones along the mainstream river is directly decreased by the water transfer projects), (3) more water supply measures and compensation measures will need to be implemented in the water donor areas. The framework proposed in this study to evaluate the comprehensive impact of inter-basin water transfer projects is conducive to water resources management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Revisiting Water Supply Rule Curves with Hedging Theory for Climate Change Adaptation
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 1827; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11071827 - 27 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Conventional reservoir operation rule curves are based on the assumption of hydrological stationarity. The aggravating non-stationarity under the changing environment rocked this foundation. The hedging theory is one of the options for adaptive operation based on hydrological forecasts, which can provide a practical [...] Read more.
Conventional reservoir operation rule curves are based on the assumption of hydrological stationarity. The aggravating non-stationarity under the changing environment rocked this foundation. The hedging theory is one of the options for adaptive operation based on hydrological forecasts, which can provide a practical tool for optimal reservoir operation under a changing environment. However, the connections between hedging theory and rule curves are not clear. This paper establishes the linkage of rule curves and hedging theory by analyzing three fundamental problems surrounding the design of conventional rule curves, namely the law and design of water supply rule curves, the determination of flood control storage, and the division of refill and drawdown circle. The general interpretation of the conventional water supply rule curves with hedging theory is conducted. Both the theoretical analyses and the Danjiangkou Reservoir case study reveal that, based on the historical records, the rule curves can be interpreted as a specific expression of hedging theory. This intrinsic linkage allows us to propose a more general and scientific method of updating rule curves in the context of non-stationarity. On this basis, the rule-curve-based climate adaptation strategies are figured out using hedging theory. This research is helpful for practical adaptive operation of reservoirs in the changing environment. Full article
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Open AccessCase Report
Evaluation of Environmental and Ecological Impacts of the Leading Large-Scale Reservoir on the Upper Reaches of the Yellow River
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3818; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143818 - 12 Jul 2019
Abstract
Large-scale reservoirs have played a significant role in meeting various water demands and socio-economic development, while they also lead to undeniable impacts on the environment and ecology. The Longyangxia reservoir located on the Yellow River is the first large-scale reservoir on the upper [...] Read more.
Large-scale reservoirs have played a significant role in meeting various water demands and socio-economic development, while they also lead to undeniable impacts on the environment and ecology. The Longyangxia reservoir located on the Yellow River is the first large-scale reservoir on the upper Yellow River with a control area of 18% of the entire Yellow River Basin. Since it was put into operation in 1987, it has made great contributions to the national economy for over 30 years. In this study, the socio-economic benefits of the Longyangxia reservoir in power generation, water supply, flood control, and ice prevention are investigated. More importantly, its impacts on the ecology and environment are also presented and analyzed, such as the impacts on river morphology, flow regimes, peak flow, fish, phytoplankton, and zooplankton. It can be concluded that the construction of the Longyangxia reservoir contributes greatly to socio-economic benefits, the water area nearby has formed a new ecological environment, and the trophic level of the aquatic environment has probably increased. Full article
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Open AccessPerspective
China’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project Empowers Sustainable Water Resources System in the North
Sustainability 2019, 11(13), 3735; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133735 - 09 Jul 2019
Abstract
Global freshwaters are severely depleted. Provision of improved water infrastructure technologies and innovation can address challenges posed by water shortages to environmental sustainability. China’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project has generated extensive debates over sustainability of water resources system in the northern drier region, [...] Read more.
Global freshwaters are severely depleted. Provision of improved water infrastructure technologies and innovation can address challenges posed by water shortages to environmental sustainability. China’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project has generated extensive debates over sustainability of water resources system in the northern drier region, which faces severe water scarcity hindering ecosystems, agriculture, industries and livelihoods. Some arguments extend the views that large infrastructure projects can have negative implications for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem goods and services. However, this study strengthens the opposite view, as such projects would resolve increasing environmental challenges northern China has been facing over many decades due to severe water shortages. The project empowers connectivity among individuals, community, and organizations that the sustainability of goods and services such as energy, irrigation and water supply are perceived, and livelihoods and the standard of peoples’ living is improved. A resilient, robust and adaptive water infrastructure framework can overcome the challenges of water shortages by meeting a long term social, economic and environmental goals for water resources systems in northern China. Such framework can also identify the thresholds of change and the threats associated with environmental sustainability. Full article
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