Analytical hierarchical process (AHP) as a decision support tool in water resources management

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Despite advances in water conservation, abstraction and transport, water demand has been increasing worldwide in the past few decades. This has resulted in an increased pressure on stakeholders to provide sustainable solutions to meet future water demands. The decision-making process to find those solutions is becoming increasingly complicated. First, owing to the arrival of new technologies or the evolution of existing ones, the number of available alternatives has increased. Additionally, economic criteria have been abandoned as the sole reference for the comparison of alternatives. The increase of both options and restrictions has complicated significantly the choice of the best alternative. Until now, the search for solutions has usually focused on the reduction of all parameters and restrictions to a common denominator or the use of complex and scarcely transparent models. This paper shows how to make use of the AHP technique to improve the decision-making process in order to satisfy new water demands in a local context. This methodology has been widely used in other fields and allows the combination of quantitative and qualitative criteria. Among the virtues of AHP are transparency, simplicity and the fact that it relies on actual opinions from experts.

Keywords: decision-making process, water management, water policy, water resources management

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