This study uses the network flow theory to optimize regional water resource allocation. In order to solve the problem of inefficient utilization of water resources with decentralized decision-making by different administrative units, a regional water resource networking and joint dispatching model with multi-objective nonlinear characteristics based on the network flow theory (hereinafter referred to as the network flow model) is constructed in the study. The network flow model was simulated and applied in the Xin-Sheng area of the Cao'e River, a tributary of the Qiantang River, and the results of the study showed that the network flow model scheduling increased significantly in fficiency compared with the current conventional scheduling, with an increase of 35.24 and 9.91% in the water resource utilization rate in the two typical years of 2019 and 2022, respectively, and showed that 2022, which has less rainfall, has a better effect than 2019. The study concludes that the network flow model can effectively improve the efficiency of water resource utilization, solve the problem of water resource imbalance between cities in the region, and play a positive role in the construction of the national water network.

  • The aim of this study is to construct a network flow model based on nonlinear multi-objective optimization.

  • Scheduling objective is to maximize water use under industry-dominated economic conditions.

  • The network flow model couples incentive compatibility mechanisms between different administrative agents.

  • Network flow modeling can test whether certain administrative units have over-exploited resources.

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