Role of Groundwater in Irrigation Water Management in the Downstream Part of the Yellow River

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Water scarcity in the Bojili irrigation District, which is located in the Shandong province in China, affects the management of the irrigation system and has led to the development of water storage functions inside the system. In particular, the irrigation and drainage scheme is used for short-term water storage whereas groundwater is used for long-term storage which is replenished during the monsoon season and drawn from when crop water requirements are not satisfied by surface irrigation.

In this paper the storage functions are quantified. The role of groundwater, in relation to rainfall and irrigation depths, is analysed in detail. This analysis, which was carried out at the district and at sub-system scales, is based on data collected from fifty five observation wells between 1991 and 1996 at a 10-day time intervals. The sub-systems, called “divisions”, represent the areas for which irrigation-related information is available.

Rainfall, groundwater levels and irrigation data are consistent. They demonstrate the inequity of water allocation between upstream and downstream water users. Accordingly strategies for water management differ between these users. These strategies only partially compensate the effects of scarcity demonstrated by decreasing cropping intensities from upstream to downstream parts of the District.

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