Water and productivity accounting using WA+ framework for sustainable water resources management: Case study of northwestern Iran

Ali Karbalaye Ghorbanpour*, Abbas Afshar, Tim Hessels, Zheng Duan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


An exhaustive evaluation of water resources is a prerequisite for evidence-informed planning and implementing sustainable management strategies. However, the lack of sufficient information on water supply and consumption, alongside the technical limitations on comprehensive accounting for inter-relations and interactions between the subsystems, has resulted in decisions with often long-lasting outcomes and undesirable consequences. Water accounting is a tool for systematic acquisition, analysis, and reporting of water-related information to fill the existing knowledge gap on water flows and fluxes. In this study, Water Accounting Plus (WA+) framework is applied to the western region of Lake Urmia, a dying hyper-saline lake, to assess water use and crop water productivity (CWP) from 2010 to 2016. Remotely sensed information along with a distributed hydrological model (SPHY) is used to fill the information gap on water resources and inform effective policy actions. Our analysis reveals that the agricultural sector is neither productive nor efficient while there is a considerable scope to ameliorate water productivity and beneficial water use by adopting proper water management practices. Average CWP values for wheat, sugarbeet, vineyard, and apple vary between 0.38 and 0.55, 5.1–5.6, 1.5–1.7 and 1.9–2.3 (kg/m3), respectively while storage changes show consistent depletion, especially during dry year, up to 117 MCM. The results indicate that a 40% reduction in blue water use is achievable to supply additional water to revive Lake Urmia. This study highlights the importance of water accounting and information flow for decision-makers, practitioners, and farming communities to define practical targets and enhance productivity in water-scarce regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103245
JournalPhysics and Chemistry of the Earth
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Crop water productivity
  • Lake Urmia
  • Remote sensing
  • Sustainable management
  • Water accounting plus


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