A holistic approach for evaluating ecological water allocation in the Yellow River basin of China
The characteristics and sustainable management of water resources on a basin scale require that they should be managed using a holistic approach. In this study, a holistic methodology called the holistic approach in a basin scale (HABS) is proposed to determine the ecological water requirements of a whole basin. There are three principles in HABS. First, ecological water requirements in a basin scale indicate not only the coupling of hydrological and ecological systems, but also the exchange of matter and energy between each ecological type through all kinds of physical geography processes. Second, ecological water requirements can be divided into different types according to their functions, and water requirements of different types are compatible. Third, ecological water requirements are related to a multiple system including water quality, water quantity, and time and space, which interact with each other. The holistic approach in a basin scale was then used in the Yellow River Basin and it suggested that 265.0 × 108 m3 of water, 45% of the total surface water resources, should be allocated to ecological systems, such as rivers, lakes, wetlands and cities, to sustain its function and health. The ecological water requirements of inside river systems and outside river systems were respectively 261.0 × 108 and 3.65 × 108 m3.