Abstract Based on the framework of shared socio-economic pathways, this study predicts future population and economic conditions of the Zhanghe River Basin and combines with the water quota to predict future water demand. First, the localization parameter system is constructed. Furthermore, the water demand is calculated. The results show that (1) under regional competitive pathway, the population is the largest, while under uneven pathway, the population is the smallest. The largest economic forecast is obtained under fossil fuel development pathway, while the smallest economic forecast is obtained under regional competitive pathway. (2) The results for domestic and economic water use in the basin show that the annual water demand shows an increasing trend. Fossil fuel development pathway is the scenario with the highest socio-economic water demand, while regional competitive pathway is the scenario with the least. (3) The Zhanghe River Basin faces a high risk of water resource shortage in the future. Even under the situation of minimum socio-economic water demand, the total water demand is difficult to meet fully. The forecasting framework established in this paper has high application value and can provide a reference for water demand forecasting and prospective water demand management in river basins.

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