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A Pressure-oriented Approach to Water Management
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Ecology.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Without a comprehensive understanding of anthropogenic pressures on the water environment, it is difficult to develop effective and efficient strategies to support water management in a proactive way. A broader systems perspective and expanded information systems are therefore essential to aid in systematically exploring interlinks between socioeconomic activities and impaired waters at an appropriate scale.

This thesis examined the root causes of human-induced water problems, taking the socioeconomic sector into account and using systems thinking and life cycle thinking as the two main methods. The European DPSIR (Drivers-Pressures-State of the Environment-Impacts-Responses) framework was also used as a basis for discussing two kinds of approaches to water management, namely state/impacts-oriented and pressure-oriented.

The results indicate that current water management approaches are mainly state/impacts-oriented. The state/impacts-oriented approach is mainly based on observed pollutants in environmental monitoring and/or on biodiversity changes in ecological monitoring. Employing this approach, the main concern is hydrophysical and biogeochemical changes in the water environment and the end result is reactive responses to combat water problems.

As a response, a pressure-oriented approach, derived from a DPR (Drivers-Pressures-Responses) model, was developed to aid in alleviating/avoiding human-induced pressures on the water environment. From a principal perspective, this approach could lead to proactive water-centric policy and decision making and the derivation of pressure-oriented information systems. The underlying principle of the DPR approach is that many root causes of human-induced water problems are closely related to anthroposphere metabolism. An industrial ecology (IE) perspective, based on the principle of mass/material balance, was also introduced to trace water flows in the human-oriented water system and to account for emissions/wastes discharged into the natural water system. This IE-based perspective should be used as part of the basis for developing pressure-oriented monitoring and assessing impacts of human-induced pressures on recipient waters.

While demonstrating the use of the pressure-oriented approach, two conceptual frameworks were developed, for water quantity and water quality analysis, respectively. These two frameworks could help motivate decision makers to consider water problems in a broader socioeconomic and environment context. Thus they should be the first step in making a broader systems analysis in any given river basin, regarding setting systems boundary and identifying data availability. In this context, a combined hydrological and administrative boundary is suggested to monitor anthropogenic processes and organise socioeconomic activity statistics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. , xii, 111 p.
Trita-IM, ISSN 1402-7615 ; 2012:04
Keyword [en]
DPR model. DPSIR framework. human-environment. industrial ecology. life cycle thinking. pressure-oriented approach. socioeconomic metabolism. systems thinking. water information. water quality. water quantity
National Category
Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-94861ISBN: 978-91-637-0429-1 (print)OAI: diva2:526264
Public defence
2012-05-31, D3, Lindstedtsvägen 5, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
QC 20120515Available from: 2012-05-15 Created: 2012-05-11 Last updated: 2012-05-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Dilemmas in water systems development in China
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dilemmas in water systems development in China
2011 (English)In: What is Sustainable Technology?: Perceptions, Paradoxes and Possibilities / [ed] Karel Mulder, Didac Ferrer and Harro van Lente, Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing , 2011, 213-234 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

China has an urgent need to resolve its dilemmas on water systems development due to the damage being done to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the need to maintain socio-economic development. This chapter summarises historical water systems development in China as regards the changing priorities of water management, and discusses in detail pernicious problems in the YRB (Yellow River Basin), which is under severe water stress. The aims are to explore the role played by articulations of sustainable development in shifts in China’s water management regime in recent decades, and to identify challenges in the compromises needed to resolve the various water systems dilemmas in China. One crucial dilemma for current quantitative water management is to balance the ‘control regime’ and the ‘adaptive regime’ in order to prevent natural disasters. In China’s specific ecological and socio-economic context, two aspects are crucial in resolving the various water systems dilemmas that exist there: facilitating integrated water resources management approaches in river basins; and stimulating technological development to alleviate water allocation conflicts and prevent water pollution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing, 2011
China, integrated water resources management, river development, water institutions, water systems, water technology, water management regimes, Yellow River
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-49586 (URN)978-1-906093-50-1 (ISBN)
QC 20111201Available from: 2011-11-28 Created: 2011-11-28 Last updated: 2012-05-15Bibliographically approved
2. Managing water resources for sustainable development: the case of integrated river basin management in China
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing water resources for sustainable development: the case of integrated river basin management in China
2010 (English)In: Water Science and Technology, ISSN 0273-1223, E-ISSN 1996-9732, Vol. 61, no 2, 499-506 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The emerging water crisis in China shows that the current institutional frameworks and policies with regard to water resources management are incapable of achieving an effective and satisfactory situation that includes Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM). This paper analyses this framework and related policies, examines their deficiencies in relation to all water stress problems and explores alternatives focusing on river basins. Water resources management reforms in modern China are reviewed and the main problems involved in transforming the current river management system into an IRBM-based system are analysed. The Huai River basin is used as an example of current river basin management, with quantitative data serving to show the scale and scope of the problems in the country as a whole. The institutional reforms required are discussed and a conceptual institutional framework is proposed to facilitate the implementation of IRBM in China. In particular, the roles, power and responsibilities of River Basin Commissions (RBCs) should be legally strengthened; the functions of supervising, decision-making and execution should be separated; and cross-sectoral legislation, institutional coordination and public participation at all levels should be promoted.

China, Huai river, institutional framework, integrated river basin, management, policy
National Category
Water Engineering
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-19178 (URN)10.2166/wst.2010.848 (DOI)000274247100025 ()20107277 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-77950347744 (Scopus ID)
QC 20110126Available from: 2010-08-05 Created: 2010-08-05 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
3. Transition in public participation in Chinese water management
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Transition in public participation in Chinese water management
Show others...
2011 (English)In: Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Engineering Sustainability, ISSN 1478-4637, E-ISSN 1751-7664, Vol. 164, no 1, 71-83 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In recent years, the Chinese central government has expressed the goal of working towards a civil society. However, there are great challenges in a transition to participatory decision-making in water systems management, and this paper aims to analyse the difficulties in the Chinese context. The development of Chinese water systems is summarised, with a focus on the characteristics of water management framework and its underlying values. The initiation of public participation in environmental decision-making is tracked, as well as its scope in the planning process of three water-related projects. Finally, the participatory mechanisms and capacity in China are briefly discussed from different perspectives. This paper argues that effective public participation in China is substantially hindered by current participatory mechanisms and capacity. Improved decision-making would result from: amendments to legal requirements on compulsory participation and broadening environmental information disclosure; developing sufficient relevant monitoring systems towards evidence-based planning and decision-making; inclusion of all relevant stakeholders under transparent planning and decision-making regimes; and building institutional capacity with the emphasis on developing a feasible procedural framework for participation and for assessing the effectiveness of the participatory process.

hydrology & water resource, infrastructure planning, public-private partnerships
National Category
Civil Engineering
Research subject
Järnvägsgruppen - Infrastruktur
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-31304 (URN)10.1680/ensu.2011.164.1.71 (DOI)000287691900007 ()2-s2.0-79952147416 (Scopus ID)
QC 20110318Available from: 2011-03-18 Created: 2011-03-14 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved

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