Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

ISSN 2095-2201

ISSN 2095-221X(Online)

CN 10-1013/X

2015 Impact Factor: 1.799

Cover Story   2013, Volume 7 Issue 5
   Online First

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Calling systematic thinking in addressing water security issues
Jining CHEN, Pengfei DU
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 625-625.

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On water security, sustainability, and the water-food-energy-climate nexus
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 626-639.

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The role of water security in sustainable development and in the nexus of water, food, energy and climate interactions is examined from the starting point of the definition of water security offered by Grey and Sadoff. Much about the notion of security has to do with the presumption of scarcity in the resources required to meet human needs. The treatment of scarcity in mainstream economics is in turn examined, therefore, in relation to how each of us as individuals reconciles means with ends, a procedure at the core of the idea of sustainable development. According to the Grey-Sadoff definition, attaining water security amounts to achieving basic, single-sector water development as a precursor of more general, self-sustaining, multi-sectoral development. This is consistent with the way in which water is treated as “first among equals”, i.e. privileged, in thinking about what is key in achieving security around the nexus of water, food, energy and climate. Cities, of course, are locations where demands for these multiple resource-energy flows are increasingly being generated. The paper discusses two important facets of security, i.e., diversity of access to resources and services (such as sanitation) and resilience in the behavior of coupled human-built-natural systems. Eight quasi-operational principles, by which to gauge nexus security with respect to city buildings and infrastructure, are developed.

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Nexus security: governance, innovation and the resilient city
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 640-657.

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Nexus security is a compound mix of ideas: reconciling human needs and wants with access to multiple resources; diversity of access to those resources and services; resilience in the face of weather- and climate-related variability; resilience likewise in the face of infrastructure failure; and the personal, individual sense of belonging. At the level of Systems Thinking there is a very close relationship between resilience in the behavior of natural (ecological) systems and resilience in the social dynamics of governance within communities, where such resilience establishes the viability of these communities over centuries, which in turn entails successful stewardship of the man-environment relationship. We use insights from this cross-system mapping — across natural, built, and human systems — to assess, first, the role of city governance in achieving nexus security (or not) and, second, the role of technological innovations in serving the same purpose. More specifically, eight principles, covering resilience and diversity of access to resources and services, are used to gauge security-enhancing features of city buildings and infrastructure. Case studies include new designs of resilient office blocks, nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) recovery systems for sanitation and wastewater treatment, and the reconstruction of urban parks for the provision of ecosystem services. Throughout the paper, matters of risk in the face of meteorological variability are prominent. We do not conclude, however, that the presence of risk implies nexus insecurity.

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Sustainability of urban drainage management: a perspective on infrastructure resilience and thresholds
Xiong NING, Yi LIU, Jining CHEN, Xin DONG, Wangfeng LI, Bin LIANG
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 658-668.

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Urban wastewater infrastructures have been threatened by natural and socioeconomic disturbances. This study investigates infrastructure resilience against the risks of long-term changes rather than natural disasters. Urban expansion that leads to an increased urban runoff and massive population movements that cause fluctuations in domestic emissions are considered in this study. Pollution permits for water bodies are adopted as constraints on wastewater infrastructures. A land use-based accounting method, combined with a grid-based database, is developed to map domestic discharge and urban runoff to service areas of wastewater treatment plants. The results of a case study on downtown Sanya, the most famous seashore tourist attraction in China, show that the average resilient values of three sub-catchment areas in 2010 were -0.57, 0.10 and 0.27, respectively, a significant spatial variation. The infrastructure in the Sanya River sub-region is the least flexible, and is more likely to fail due to unstable inflows. The resiliencies will increase to 0.59, 1.01 and 0.54, respectively, in 2020, a considerable improvement in robustness. The study suggests that infrastructure resilience needs to be taken into further consideration for urban planning and the related realm of urban governance to foster more robust wastewater management under various risks.

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Contribution of national bioassessment approaches for assessing ecological water security: an AUSRIVAS case study
Susan J. NICHOLS, Fiona J. DYER
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 669-687.

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River managers in Australia are managing in the face of extremes to provide security of water supply for people, production and the environment. Balancing the water requirements of people, environments and economies requires that water security is viewed holistically, not just in terms of the water available for human consumption. Common definitions of water security focus on the needs of both humans and ecosystems for purposes such as drinking, agriculture and industrial use, and to maintain ecological values. Information about achieving water security for the environment or ecological purposes can be a challenge to interpret because the watering requirements of key ecological processes or assets are not well understood, and the links between ecological and human values are often not obvious to water users. Yet the concepts surrounding river health are inherently linked to holistic concepts of water security. The measurement of aquatic biota provides a valuable tool for managers to understand progress toward achieving ecological water security objectives. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the reference condition approach to river health assessment, using the development of the Australian River Assessment System (AUSRIVAS) as a case study. We make the link between the biological assessment of river health and assessment of ecological water security, and suggest that such an approach provides a way of reporting that is relevant to the contribution made by ecosystems to water security. The reference condition approach, which is the condition representative of minimally disturbed sites organized by selected physical, chemical, and biological characteristics, is most important for assessing ecological water security objectives.

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Exploring price effects on the residential water conservation technology diffusion process: a case study of Tianjin city
Junying CHU, Hao WANG, Can WANG
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 688-698.

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Reforms of the water pricing management system and the establishment of a flexible water pricing system are significant for cities in northern China to tackle their critical water issues. The WATAP (Water conservation Technology Adoption Processes) model is developed in order to capture the water conservation technology adoption process under different price scenarios with disaggregate water demands down to the end use level. This model is explicitly characterized by the technological selection process under maximum marginal benefit assumption by different categories of households. In particular, when households need to purchase water devices in the provision market with the consideration of complex factors such as the life span, investment and operating costs of the device, as well as the regulated water price by the government. Applied to Tianjin city, four scenarios of water price evolutions for a long-term perspective (from year 2011 to 2030) are considered, including BAU (Business As Usual), SP1 (Scenario of Price increase with constant annual rate), SP2 (Scenario of Price increase every four years) and SP3 (Scenario of Price increase with affordable constraint), considering many factors such as historic trends, affordability and incentives for conservation. Results show that on aggregate 2.3%, 11.0% and 18.2% of fresh water can be saved in the residential sector in scenario SP1, SP2 and SP3, respectively, compared with the BAU scenario in the year 2030. The water price signals can change the market shares of different water appliances, as well as the water end use structure of households, and ultimately improve water use efficiency. The WATAP model may potentially be a helpful tool to provide insights for policy makers on water conservation technology policy analysis and assessment.

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Effects of riparian land use on water quality and fish communities in the headwater stream of the Taizi River in China
Sen DING, Yuan ZHANG, Bin LIU, Weijing KONG, Wei MENG
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 699-708.

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Riparian land use remains one of the most significant impacts on stream ecosystems. This study focuses on the relationship between stream ecosystems and riparian land use in headwater regions. Four riparian land types including forest, grassland, farmland, and residential land were examined to reveal the correlation between stream water and fish communities in headwater streams of the Taizi River in north-eastern China. Four land types along riparian of 3 km in length were evaluated at 25, 50, 100, 200 and 500 m widths, respectively. Generally, the results found a significant relationship between riparian land uses and stream water quality. Grassland was positively correlated with water quality parameters (conductivity and total dissolved solids) at scales from 100 to 500 m riparian width. Farmland and residential land was negatively correlated with water quality parameters at scales from 25 to 500 m and from 50 to 200 m riparian widths, respectively. Although the riparian forest is important for maintaining habitat diversity and fish communities, the results found that only fish communities were significantly correlated with the proportion of riparian farmland. Farmland had a positive correlation with individual fish abundance within a riparian corridor of 25 to 50 m, but a negative correlation with fish diversity metrics from 25 to 100 m. This study indicates that effective riparian management can improve water quality and fish communities in headwater streams.

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Advances in LID BMPs research and practice for urban runoff control in China
Haifeng JIA, Hairong YAO, Shaw L. YU
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 709-720.

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China is at present experiencing a very rapid urbanization process, which has brought a number of adverse impacts upon the water environment. In particular, urban runoff quantity and quality control have emerged as one of the key concerns for municipal officials. One of the strategies being considered is the use of a Low Impact Development type of Best Management Practices (LID BMPs) for urban storm water runoff quantity and quality control. In this paper, the situation surrounding urban runoff control in China is reviewed first. Then the conventional strategy and technologies for the construction and management of urban drainage systems are discussed, while exploring their inherent dilemmas. The LID BMPs are then introduced to control urban runoff in the context of urban sustainable water systems. After the comprehensive analysis of the various LID BMPs, the advances in LID BMPs research and practice for urban runoff control in China are investigated and summarized. At last, the difficulties of implementing LID BMPs in China are discussed, and a direction for the future is proposed.

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A comparison of the water management systems in France and China
Xiaoliu YANG, Jian XU, Jean-Fran?ois DONZIER, Coralie NOEL
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 721-734.

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This paper compares legal systems for water management in France and China, with a focus on integrated water resources management and regarding in particular the formulation of policies and their implementation. The research shows that China has committed itself to the efficient management of water resources through the development of various policy tools during the current period. This commitment, however, has often been interrupted and distorted by politics, resulting in the neglect of socioeconomic and environmental priorities. France has developed a legislative framework and practical instruments to apply integrated water resources management at the river basin level since the 1960s. This experience and the current implementation of the European Water Framework Directive brings elements that can contribute to Chinese society meeting its water challenges.

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A modeling system for drinking water sources and its application to Jiangdong Reservoir in Xiamen city
Pengfei DU, Zhiyi LI, Jinliang HUANG
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 735-745.

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Drinking water sources are highly valued by authorities for safeguarding the life of a city. Models are widely applied as important and effective tools in the management of water sources. However, it is difficult to apply models in water source management because water managers are often not equipped with the professional knowledge and operational skills necessary for making use of the models. This paper introduces a drinking water source simulation and prediction system that consists of a watershed model, a hydrological model and a water quality model. This system provides methods and technical guidance for the conventional management of water sources and emergency water event response. In this study, the sub-models of the system were developed based on the data of the Jiangdong Reservoir in Xiamen, and the model validation was based on local monitoring data. The hydrological model and water quality model were integrated by computer programming, and the watershed model was indirectly integrated into the system through a network platform. Furthermore, three applications for Jiangdong Reservoir water protection utilizing the system were introduced in this paper, including a conventional simulation, an emergency simulation, and an emergency measures evaluation.

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Substance flow analysis for an urban drainage system of a representative hypothetical city in China
Hua BAI, Siyu ZENG, Xin DONG, Jining CHEN
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 746-755.

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This paper discusses the use of substance flow analysis (SFA) as a tool to support quantified research on urban drainage systems. Based on the principle of mass balance, a static substance flow model is established to describe and examine the routes and intensities of water, chemical oxygen demand (COD), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) for a representative hypothetical city (RH city) in China, which is a devised and scaled city using statistical characteristics of urban circumstances at the national level. It is estimated that the annual flux of water, COD, TN and TP through the urban drainage system in 2010 was 55.1 million m3, 16037.3 t, 1649.5 t and 209.7 t, respectively. The effluent of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was identified as the most important pathway for pollutant emissions, which contributed approximately 60% of COD, 65% of TN and 50% of TP to receiving water. During the wastewater treatment process, 1.0 million m3, 7042.5 t, 584.2 t and 161.4 t of the four studied substances had been transmitted into sludge, meanwhile 3813.0 t of COD and 394.0 t of TN were converted and emitted to the atmosphere. Compared with the representative hypothetical city of 2000, urban population and the area of urban built districts had expanded by approximately 90% and 80% respectively during the decade, resulting in a more than threefold increase in the input of substances into the urban drainage system. Thanks to the development of urban drainage systems, the total loads of the city were maintained at a similar level.

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Changes in hourly precipitation may explain the sharp reduction of discharge in the middle reach of the Yellow River after 2000
Lin LUO, Zhongjing WANG
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 756-768.

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The Hekou-Longmen reach, together with local floods, is the main source area for coarse sedimentations into the Yellow River. When total rainfall slightly increased in the area, discharge dramatically decreased by 40%–70% after the year of 2000, and attracting extensive attention in the context of global climate change. High temporal resolution precipitation (timescales between 1 and 4 h) data from the June to September period from 270 rain gauges over the past three decades was mined in order to help explain the phenomenon. Each rainfall event was classified as light/moderate rain, large rain, heavy rain or rainstorm by the event’s rainfall amount, and further classified as low intensity rain, medium intensity rain and high intensity rain by the event’s rainfall intensity. The Mann-Kendall trend test was applied to detect the presence and significance of monotonic trends, and to find the change points in the mean and variance of the precipitation characteristics series, including the amount, intensity, frequency and duration of each rainfall category. Results show that although the total amount of precipitation has slightly increased, the average rainfall intensity has significantly decreased. The larger change happened in light/moderate rain events and low/medium intensity rain events, and the intensity changes have a great extent occurred around the threshold of Non-Runoff Rainfall regime, which was proposed for the approximate calculation of initial losses. Changes in rainfall distribution between different classes of the Runoff Rainfall regime in the 2000s could lead to 0.9 mm less runoff depth (17.3% of the total reduction) than the 1980–1999 period. The study indicates that changes in hourly precipitation may be responsible for the sharp reduction of discharge.

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Land use/cover change effects on floods with different return periods: a case study of Beijing, China
Yueling WANG, Xiaoliu YANG
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 769-776.

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In this study, an approach integrating digital land use/cover change (LUCC) analysis, hydraulic modeling and statistical methods was applied to quantify the effect of LUCC on floods in terms of inundation extent, flood arrival time and maximum water depth. The study took Beijing as an example and analyzed five specific floods with return periods of 20-year, 50-year, 100-year, 1000-year and 10000-year on the basis of LUCC over a nine-year period from 1996 to 2004. The analysis reveals that 1) during the period of analysis Beijing experienced unprecedented LUCC; 2) LUCC can affect inundation extent and flood arrival time, and floods with longer return periods are more influenced; 3) LUCC can affect maximum water depth and floods with shorter return periods are more influenced; and 4) LUCC is a major flood security stressor for Beijing. It warns that those cities having experienced rapid expansion during recent decades in China are in danger of more serious floods and recommends that their actual land use patterns should be carefully assessed considering flood security. This integrated approach is demonstrated to be a useful tool for joint assessment, planning and management of land and water.

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Decision Support System for emergency scheduling of raw water supply systems with multiple sources
Qi WANG, Shuming LIU, Wenjun LIU, Zoran KAPELAN, Dragan SAVIC
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 777-786.

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A hydraulic model-based emergency scheduling Decision Support System (DSS) is designed to eliminate the impact of sudden contamination incidents occurring upstream in raw water supply systems with multiple sources. The DSS consists of four functional modules, including water quality prediction, system safety assessment, emergency strategy inference and scheduling optimization. The work flow of the DSS is as follows. First, the water quality variations on specific cross-sections are calculated given the pollution information. Next, a comprehensive evaluation on the safety of the current system is conducted using the outputs in the first module. This will assist in the assessment of whether the system is in danger of failure, taking both the impact of pollution and system capacity into account. If there is a severe impact of contamination on the reliability of the system, a fuzzy logic based inference module is employed to generate reasonable strategies including technical measures. Otherwise, a Genetic Algorithm (GA)-based optimization model will be used to find the least-cost scheduling plan. The proposed DSS has been applied to a coastal city in South China during a saline tide period as validation. Through scenario analysis, it is demonstrated that this DSS tool is instrumental in emergency scheduling for the water company to quickly and effectively respond to sudden contamination incidents.

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Water, energy and food interactions–Challenges and opportunities
Front Envir Sci Eng. 2013, 7 (5): 787-793.

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Water and energy are inextricably linked, and as a consequence both have to be addressed together. This is called the water-energy nexus. When access to either is limited, it becomes obvious that it is necessary to consider their interdependence. Population growth, climate change, urbanization, increasing living standards and food consumption will require an integrated approach where food, water and energy security are considered together. In this paper we examine water, energy and food security and their couplings. The nexus also creates conflicts between water use, energy extraction and generation as well as food production. Some of these conflicts are illustrated. It is argued that there is an urgent need for integrated planning and operation. Not only will better technology be needed, but also better integration of policies, organizations and political decisions.

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15 articles