Water diversion and transfer

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Water diversion and transfer

Category 01. Water flow quantity improvement

General description

The term water diversion and transfer usually refers to the large-scale diversion of water from a river to transfer it to another river or even basin (see description of pressure Interbasin flow transfers) (see measure Reduce surface water abstraction with return for small-scale discharge diversions and returns like bypass channels at single hydropower dams).

The main purposes of water diversion and transfer usually are to supply water to urban or industrial areas, hydropower production or providing water for agriculture (for irrigation or for alleviating water shortages during drought years). In principal, water diversion and transfer could also be used for ecological purposes, e.g. to mitigate the effect of surface water abstraction. However, this will always cause a flow reduction with hard to predict ecological effects in the donor basin, and has potential detrimental effects in the receiving basin (e.g. eco-evolutionary damages, spread of non-native and invasive species).

There are virtually no studies on the effect of water diversion and transfer for ecological purposes (but see Li et al. 2013) but a growing number of studies on the effects for economic purposes (see Zhang et al. 2015). Therefore, effects are hard to predict.

Useful references

Li, Y., Tang, C., Wang, C. et al. (2013). Improved Yangtze River Diversions: Are they helping to solve algal bloom problems in Lake Taihu, China? Ecological Engineering, 51, 104-116.

Zhang, L., Li, S.S., Loaiciga, H.A., Zhuang, Y.H., Du, Y. (2015). Opportunities and challenges of interbasin water transfers: a literature review with bibliometric analysis. Scientometrics, 105, 279-294.

Other relevant information