The Role of Decision Making Software in Effective Selection of Project Alternatives

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- By: ,

Courtesy of Water Environment Federation (WEF)

ABSTRACT
Conducting an alternative analysis study for a public works project can be a difficult process considering that the alternative selected for design and construction must be fully embraced by the project owners and the public. A successful study can position the project for successful implementation and broad public support, while a poor study can create uncertainty for the project. The analysis must reflect and incorporate the ideas and demands of the owner from the utility director to the O&M personnel who will operate and maintain equipment. Many projects have failed because operators were not involved in project decisions and are unwilling to operate difficult equipment processes.

Criterium Decision PlusĀ® (CDP) and other decision making software packages have been successfully utilized in the last few years for alternative analysis for a variety of wastewater treatment plant process selections, pipeline alignments, wastewater treatment plant site selections, master plan studies, and equipment procurement evaluations. Decision analysis tools allow the project team to identify important evaluation criteria, structure the problem, build consensus, document the decision making process, and communicate the results of the decision to the owner, regulatory agencies, review boards, or the public. More advanced models of decision tools allow for quick creation of a decision models, provide insight into factors affecting the decision, allows for an interactive presentation to the owner, creates understanding of the sensitivity of the results, and identifies a preferred alternative. Many utilities are now requesting decision making software programs to assist in conducting alternative analyses.

A decision analysis tool was recently utilized to evaluate alternatives for an odor control study at a wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) in the Midwest. The goal of the analysis was to identify an odor control process for pilot testing and final design. The processes evaluated included chemical scrubbers, biofilters, and ionization. Based on the assigned weights, ratings, Contribution by Criteria, Sensitivity Analysis, and Cost/Benefit Analysis, the owner identified
biofilters for pilot testing and final design for the odor control project.

INTRODUCTION
Conducting an alternative analysis study can be a difficult process considering that the alternative selected for design and construction must be fully embraced by the project owners and the public. A successful study can position the project for successful implementation and broad public support, while a poor study can create uncertainty for the project. The analysis must reflect and incorporate the ideas and demands of the owner from the utility director to the O&M personnel who will operate and maintain equipment. Many projects have failed because operators were not involved in project decisions and are unwilling to operate difficult equipment processes.

Criterium Decision PlusĀ® (CDP) and other decision making software packages have been successfully utilized in the last few years for alternative analysis for a variety of wastewater treatment plant process selections, pipeline alignments, WWTP site selections, master plan studies, and equipment procurement evaluations. Decision analysis tools allow the project team to identify important evaluation criteria, structure the problem, build consensus, document the decision making process, and communicate the results of the decision to the owner, regulatory agencies, review boards, or the public. More advanced models of decision tools allow for quick creation of a decision models, provide insight into factors affecting the decision, allows for an interactive presentation to the owner, creates understanding of the sensitivity of the results, and identifies a preferred alternative. Many utilities are now requesting decision making software programs to assist in conducting alternative analyses.

A decision analysis tool was recently utilized to evaluate alternatives for an odor control study at a wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) in the Midwest. The goal of the analysis was to identify an odor control process for pilot testing and final design. The processes evaluated included chemical scrubbers, biofilters, and ionization. This paper will describe the features and benefits of decision making tools and how they are effectively applied in the alternative
evaluation.

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