Other hydro-economic modeling applications

I am working with colleagues at the International Water Management Institute to develop a general hydro-economic framework that can be applied to analyze water-energy-environment-food (WEEF) nexus problems across river basins. Some of this work also involves systematically reviewing the literature to better understand critical research gaps and opportunities.

Main research collaborators:

  • Maksud Bekchanov, Aditya Sood, and David Wiberg (IWMI)
  • Emily Pakhtigian (Duke)
  • Claudia Ringler (IFPRI)

Related Publications:

Bekchanov, M.; A. Sood; A. Pinto; Jeuland (2015). “Hydro-economic models to address river basin management problems: Structure, applications, and research gaps.” Submitted.

Abstract: Increasing demand for water coupled with reduced water availability in many regions of the world calls for implementation of a range of technological, institutional, and economic instruments to address growing water scarcity. Hydro-economic models (HEMs), which integrate the complex hydrologic and economic interrelationships inherent in most water resources systems, provide an effective means of diagnosing and devising solutions to water-related problems across varied spatial and temporal scales. HEMs are powerful tools for examining potential future changes in water resources systems, including the effects of climate change, socio-economic changes, and infrastructural and policy responses to water resource management challenges. This study reviews recent advances in hydro-economic modeling and characterizes the types of issues that are typically explored in the hydro-economic modeling literature. HEMs are broadly classified into two categories on the basis of their structure: node-based (simulation or optimization) models, and economy-wide (input-output or Computable General Equilibrium) models that account for processes linked to water resources. The review highlights the primary differences in the applications and interpretations obtained using these approaches, analyzes the distribution of questions that different HEMs have been used to answer, and discusses previous work and efforts to integrate across model types. Our findings suggest that additional efforts are needed to more realistically account for the range and complexity of interlinkages between water systems and society, particularly with regards to ecology and water quality, and the food and energy sectors. Additionally, the broader economic impacts of water-related processes, for example those related to inter-regional trade dynamics, the distribution of income and migration, should be investigated further. In effect, because of the inherent complexity in the economic dynamics underlying many water systems, we argue that such tools can challenge intuition and generate critical insights that are relevant to more effective management of transboundary water resources and related sectors.

Bekchanov, M.; C. Ringler; A. Bhaduri and M. Jeuland (2015). “Optimizing irrigation efficiency improvements in the Aral Sea Basin.” Water Resources and Economics (Accepted).

Abstract: Water scarcity driven by climate change, growing demand, and inefficient management of water and related infrastructure is a serious threat to livelihoods in the Aral Sea Basin (ASB) of Central Asia. In recent decades, downstream water shortages have become increasingly common and inflows into the Aral Sea have become very limited. Meanwhile, water losses are enormous both at conveyance and field levels because of outdated infrastructure and the dominance of highly inefficient basin and furrow irrigation methods. Intensification and modernization of irrigation systems, while requiring investment of scarce capital resources, could thus substantially reduce non-beneficial water consumption and help in coping with increasing water scarcity. This study applies a hydro-economic model that solves for the investment in improved irrigation efficiency across the various irrigation sites in the ASB that delivers the highest economic gains. Improvement of the efficiency of irrigation canals and implementation of field efficiency investments and practices, such as drip irrigation, and alternate dry or short furrow irrigation (for rice), would substantially improve economic outcomes. Conveyance efficiency investments are particularly worthwhile in downstream regions where sandy soils are common and return flows largely feed saline lakes in tail-end depressions. Meanwhile, field-level efficiency should be fully upgraded in all rice-producing regions through the use of drip and alternate wet and dry irrigation, as well as with drip irrigation in the cotton-producing Ferghana Valley of the Syr Darya Basin. The value of these improvements increases with reduced water availability. Implementation of an optimal set of investments could increase basinwide benefits by 20% (from US$ 3.2 to 3.8 billion) under normal water availability and by 40% (from US$ 2.5 to 3.5 billion) under dry conditions (80% of normal supply).

Bekchanov, M.; C. Ringler; A. Bhaduri and M. Jeuland (2015). “How does the Rogun Dam affect water and energy scarcity in Central Asia?” Water International 40(5-6): 856-876. doi:10.1080/02508060.2015.1051788.

Abstract: The construction of the Rogun Dam in the Amu Darya Basin to increase upstream energy generation creates potential trade-offs with existing downstream irrigation, due to the different timing of energy and irrigation water demands. The present analysis, based on a hydro-economic optimization model, shows that cooperative basin-wide maximization of benefits would lead to large increases in upstream hydropower
production and only minor changes in downstream irrigation benefits. However, if upstream stations, including Rogun, are managed unilaterally to maximize energy production, hydropower benefits might more than double while irrigation benefits
greatly decrease, thereby substantially reducing overall basin benefits.