Guanting-Sustainable water and agricultural land use in the Guanting watershed under limited water resources

A Sino-German consortium with four German and four Chinese partners was formed in the mid of 2009 to develop a master plan to achieve sufficient water availability and quality in the Guanting river basin. Guiding principle of the Guanting project is to ensure sustainable use of water and land resources in the catchment area of the Guanting reservoir, taking into account the climatic, ecological and economic conditions.


China is one of the most dynamically developing areas of the world. This is particularly evident in the region around Beijing by high economic growth, growing urbanization and population increase.
Prolonged droughts, severe water pollution, water use conflicts and declining groundwater levels are serious problems in the provinces of Shanxi, Hebei and Beijing. Due to climate change the current situation may exacerbate dramatically when the total water supply decreased, the growing season expands and the rainfall is distributed more unequally.



Research goals and questions

The general goal of the project is to develop a River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) that aims at establishing sustainable water and land use management in the region and combines a comprehensive characterization of the current state, gap analysis, identification of pressures and impacts and a programme of measures for achieving sufficient water availability and quality in the catchment area.
In developing a sustainable RBMP for the Guanting watershed two aspects have to be especially taken into the account: uncertainties in future climate and socio-economic development and complex administrative structures as well as conflicting interests in the large watershed and downstream up to Beijing.

The focus on the Guanting watershed demands for special attention on land use specific and especially agriculture related problems, for example fertilizer application regimes, diffuse source pollution, irrigation management. The core research question of the scenario exercise suggested for the Guanting watershed is therefore:

How can the land use and especially agricultural pressures on the state of the water resources in the Guanting watershed be adjusted to guarantee availability of water of sufficient quality for the water user in the watershed and for the capital Beijing considering the limits set by climatic, environmental and economic needs and constraints in a sustainable way?

Methods and model systems for handling the described resource conflicts are available to clearly identify the conflicts and to develop measures for addressing them. Model application can be embedded in a heuristic framework, which starts with the current conflicts, explores their future prospective of major external drivers triggered by global change, investigates the impacts of regional scenarios for global change, and looks for adaptation strategies.

 Guanting Reservoir  Wastewater treatment plant


General approach

Accomplishing the aforementioned task requires conducting extensive, interdisciplinary, and well coordinated research in the area of interest in close cooperation with the responsible Chinese project-partners and authorities. This widely corresponds to the research in GLOWA-Elbe ( both in the overall situation and conceptual in the way it has been conducted in the Elbe area (Cramer & Wechsung 2003). The similarity of both research projects is viewed as a particular advantage because the methodical research approaches in GLOWA-Elbe approximate those in the Chinese research area so that parts of the task can be directly adopted. This also pertains to new insights as well as technological advancements in GLOWA-Elbe.

In analogy to GLOWA-Elbe we distinguish four task fields for the Guanting-basin project:

1. Regionalisation of global change scenarios: estimating the external driving forces („drivers“ or developmental frame that can not be influenced by the area itself), and particularly the expected regional specification of the future climate and socioeconomic conditions (and the projection of these changes on the water supply;
2. Balancing and evaluation of the surface water quantity: long term balancing of supply and demand of surface water quantity and integrated evaluation of management alternatives for the achievement of management goals
3. Balancing and evaluation of the surface water quality: long term balancing of nutrient entry and normative targets for the water bodies quality and integrated evaluation of management alternatives for the achievement of the ‘good ecological status ’
4. Integrative measurement planning: Recommendations for alternative measures and strategies of water management and land use that may contribute to improving water availability and water quality in the region.

Perspectives and Transferability

The master plan, which is developed by the project, provides a good basis for targeted offers by German engineering company and project developers to improve water use efficiency and water quality and to reduce water conflicts.
The models STAR, CLM, SWIM, WBalMo and MONERIS, which are parts of the model network, are getting further qualified by its application in the Guanting region. That recommends them for subsequent use in the region and their environment.
In addition it will be expected, that also the performance and reliability of the models for future applications in Germany and Europe will be improved.

The results of the project will be published in scientific journals and presented at conferences. The internet portal of the project ( will be used as an additional platform to publish results.


Video about the Project

The IWRM Project created a Movie, where Technologies and Instruments for the sustainable use of Water are introduced:

Project Homepage

project partners

German Partners:

Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)


Leibnitz-Instítute of Freshwater Ecology and Iland Fisheries (IGB)

Institute for Applied Freshwater Ecology Ltd. (IaG)

Chinese Partners:

Hebei Provincial Academy of Water Resources

shanxi Water Research Instittute

Haihe River Water Conservancy Commission

China Meteorological Administration, National Climate Centre

Beijinghydraulic Research Institute



  • Dr. Rüdiger Furrer

    • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) Projektträger Karlsruhe - Wassertechnologie und Entsorgung (PTKA-WTE)
    • Telephone: +49 (0)7247 82-3003
    • Fax: +49 (0)7247 82-7003
    • Email Address:
  • Dr. Frank Wechsung (Project leader), Peggy Gräfe (coordination)

    • Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung e.V. (PIK)
    • Telephone: +49 (0)331 288 2665
    • Fax: +49 (0)331 288 2428
    • Email Address: