Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-155
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
30 May 2016
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.
Is groundwater sufficient to support sustainable irrigation agriculture in a reclaimed wetland region?
Zhonghe Pang1, Lianghua Lv1,2, Jie Li1, Lijuan Yuan1, Yanlong Kong1, Lu Luo1, and Tianming Huang1 1Key Laboratory of Shale Gas and Geoengineering, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China
Abstract. Water resources management is the key to sustainable agriculture and wetlands ecosystems. Understanding whether agriculture with groundwater-dominated irrigation is sustainable is sometimes difficult due to complex hydrological conditions, e.g. in the case of a wetland region. To investigate this issue we have chosen a wetland and rice paddy fields co-existing area with a groundwater-dominated irrigation scheme in the Sanjiang Plain, NE China, which has been reclaimed from lake-swamp type of natural wetlands since the 1950s. Using a multi-tracer approach involving water chemistry and isotopes (2H, 18O, 3H, 13C, 14C), integrated with data on groundwater regime, we demonstrate that it is possible to delineate the mechanism of hydraulic interactions between groundwater and river, ponds and rice paddy fields in the wetlands terrain. Regional variations in hydrogeology have been found to be the main factors controlling groundwater recharge and regime. Groundwater in the confined Quaternary aquifer with ages over 50 years and evidenced by depleted heavy isotopes is recharged by lateral flow from nearby mountains. The groundwater is in general not affected by surface activities, however, its yield is limited. Groundwater alone is not sufficient to support sustainable irrigation agriculture. On the contrary, the unconfined Quaternary aquifer is recharged by rainfall or riverbank infiltration, especially at localities near the rivers. It is more likely for the groundwater to be affected by agricultural activities, though its yield is rather abundant. This paper also indicates that utilization and planning of water resources for reclaimed agriculture can be improved through hydrological studies using environmental tracers.

Citation: Pang, Z., Lv, L., Li, J., Yuan, L., Kong, Y., Luo, L., and Huang, T.: Is groundwater sufficient to support sustainable irrigation agriculture in a reclaimed wetland region?, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-155, 2016.
Zhonghe Pang et al.
Zhonghe Pang et al.

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Short summary
As water table declines quickly, farmers begin to wonder if groundwater is sufficient to support irrigation of the paddy rice fields reclaimed from wetlands. Environmental tracers provided evidence to show that groundwater in the heart of the former wetlands is not recharged by modern precipitation and is not a sustainable source of supply. We have demonstrated the usefulness of environmental tracers on the one hand and offered scientific basis for water resources management on the other.
As water table declines quickly, farmers begin to wonder if groundwater is sufficient to support...
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