IWA Publishing

Valuing information for sewer replacement decisions


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Decision-making for sewer asset management is partially based on intuition and often lacks explicit argumentation, hampering decision transparency and reproducibility. This is not to be preferred in light of public accountability and cost-effectiveness. It is unknown to what extent each decision criterion is appreciated by decision-makers. Further insight into this relative importance improves understanding of decision-making of sewer system managers. As such, a digital questionnaire (response ratio 43%), containing pairwise comparisons between 10 relevant information sources, was sent to all 407 municipalities in the Netherlands to analyse the relative importance and assess whether a shared frame of reasoning is present. Thurstone's law of comparative judgment was used for analysis, combined with several consistency tests. Results show that camera inspections were valued highest, while pipe age was considered least important. The respondents were pretty consistent per individual and also showed consistency as a group. This indicated a common framework of reasoning among the group. The feedback of the group showed, however, the respondents found it difficult to make general comparisons without having a context. This indicates decision-making in practice is more likely to be steered by other mechanisms than purely combining information sources.

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