Decision Support System Tool for Water Supply Planning

Spandana Tummuri

Decision Support SystemThe core of a sound planning process is the commitment to stewardship of the resources driven by a need to conserve and optimize the resources. With multiple entities managing multiple resources, an integrated approach to water supply planning is the most effective solution. A few challenges in planning for future water supply strategies are the uncertainty in resource availability and the risk involved in strategy development.

Yet another important aspect of planning is the need for achieving triple bottom line, i.e. developing sustainable resources that meet the financial, social and environmental performance measures. A decision support system (DSS) tool helps develop a sound implementation plan that is based on the fundamentals of comprehensive approach, optimization of system operations, and integration of the available resources.

The best approach for addressing the uncertainty is to adopt a scenario-based planning approach. Evaluation of multiple alternatives driven by stakeholder participation and cost-effectiveness results in a robust implementation plan. DSS tools allow us to prepare a plan using the scenario-based approach.

What is a Decision Support System Tool?

A DSS tool allows us to develop a comprehensive model that incorporates all aspects of the planning process, while avoiding the complexities of the individual elements of the process. It truly helps the user get from data to the decisions, while incorporating the stakeholder contributions. It is also a tool that enables alternatives evaluation and scenario planning to address the uncertainty and risk involved in the availability of future resources.

A DSS is a simple yet effective tool in evaluating multiple alternatives and selecting the most optimal strategy that helps achieve the goal. It helps incorporate various aspects of a water supply plan (system components, financial components, stakeholder contribution) while achieving multiple objectives and staying focused on the decision-making process.

Freese and Nichols and Decision Support System Modeling

Freese and Nichols’ approach to water supply planning is fundamentally rooted in delivering a solution that meets the triple bottom line. We have applied successful use of DSS tools for multiple projects, including:

  • Helping multiple entities coordinate development of a water supply plan that meets their demands.
  • Helping entities prepare long-range supply plans and detailed operations plans.
  • Using the philosophy of scenario planning and DSS modeling to help an entity with the comparative analysis and alternatives evaluation of potential supply strategies.
  • Evaluating numerous diverse water supply alternatives to narrow down a list of potential strategies.
  • Developing a DSS tool for an entity to help manage the water transmission through multiple components of their system (raw water, treated water, distribution system, stormwater and wastewater), improve system reliability through optimized operations, and determine the water balance within the system.
  • Developing an interactive tool that enhanced stakeholder participation in determining the best management practices for regional water supply development. The tool was very effective in aiding communication with numerous stakeholders with varied stakes in the project.

Who should use Decision Support System Tools?

  • Any entity that believes in developing a water supply plan that is the most feasible, reliable and financially sound
  • Any entity with multiple objectives, multiple supply alternatives, multiple stakeholders and multiple goals
  • Any entity that encourages active stakeholder involvement and participation

For more information on DSS tools, contact Spandana Tummuri, Ph.D., P.E., ENV SP, at 817-735-7520.