Groundwater sustainability: Developing a non-cooperative optimal management scenario in shared groundwater resources under water bankruptcy conditions.

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Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Management, 2021, 292, pp. 1-13
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Groundwater level drawdown changes the hydrological cycle and poses challenges such as land subsidence and reduction of the groundwater quality. In this study, a new approach using a simulation-optimization framework was developed for shared groundwater management under water bankruptcy conditions (where water demand is greater than the allowable discharge capacity of water resources). The novelty of this study lies in using bankruptcy rules and a game model to manage a bankrupted shared groundwater resource considering aquifer sustainability. Accordingly, groundwater flow in the aquifer was numerically simulated by a finite-differences model (MODFLOW). Then, the repeated performance code of the finite-differences model was run for different discharge scenarios, and the results were applied to develop an MLP-ANN meta-model. By coupling the meta-model with a non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm II (NSGA-II)-based multi-objective optimization model, an optimized cultivation pattern under water bankruptcy conditions was achieved. Then, six different bankruptcy methods were utilized to specify groundwater allocation between three stakeholders. To manage the water bankruptcy conditions, different scenarios considering various groundwater extraction rates and cultivation areas were defined, and the optimization model was recoded for each scenario to find the corresponding optimized cultivation pattern. To consider the competition between stakeholders for groundwater extraction, a non-cooperative 3-player game was applied to achieve a compromise for different combinations of management strategies, which maximizes the profit and yields the best cultivation scenario. Applicability of the proposed methodology was investigated in an aquifer system located in Golestan Province, Iran, including three regions (Minudasht, Azadshahr, and Gonbade-kavus). Results show that the proposed method is capable of managing the bankruptcy conditions by generating greater agricultural profit and reducing groundwater drawdowns.
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