Due to large-scale agricultural irrigation and industrial production, groundwater had been excessively employed to benefit the economy development and life improvement in Chikugo-Saga plain since the middle of last century, which led to many environmental problems such as land subsidence, flooding inundation and water shortage. In order to mitigate the impact of environmental hazards, some water supply projects have been performed to substitute surface water for groundwater since 1970s. For the purpose of comprehending the influence of substitute water projects on groundwater withdrawals, a tempo-spatial groundwater withdrawals assessment model with the resolution of one month in time and one kilometer in space was initially established based on various data concerning meteorology, agriculture, land use, soils, surface water consumption and groundwater utilization by using GIS. According to the development of the substitute water projects, a 28-year study period 1979–2006 was then divided into four stages (i.e. 1979–1984, 1985–1995, 1996–2000 and 2001–2006) and the tempo-spatial distribution of groundwater withdrawals for each stage was represented by means of the proposed model. The tempo-spatial variation of groundwater withdrawals for various water use categories under the effect of substitute water projects was finally analyzed by comparing the distributions of groundwater withdrawals at different stages. The results show that with the advance of the substitute water projects studied, the groundwater pumpage for irrigation, industry or waterworks varies geographically and phasically in the plain. From the first stage to the last stage, there is a significant decrease by approximately 23 % in mean annual total groundwater withdrawals. During the study period, dramatic declines are found in agriculture-use groundwater pumpage in the downstream land of Chikugo river at the third stage, in industry-use pumpage in eastern Saga area at the second stage and found in waterworks-use pumpage in western Saga area at the last stage, while little change in agriculture-use pumpage in western Saga area and in industry-use pumpage in Chikugo area without the corresponding substitution projects. Moreover, it is indicated that the proposed assessment model of groundwater withdrawals is helpful to figure out the regional groundwater exploitation and its impact on the environment, particularly when there is the lack of groundwater pumpage data recorded. It is necessary to develop new substitute water supply plans to reduce the agriculture-use groundwater withdrawals in western Saga area and the industry-use withdrawals in Chikugo area, for more effective management of regional water resources in future.
!!!All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes