American Society of Civil Engineers

Multicriteria Decision Analysis Applied to Glen Canyon Dam

by Marshall Flug, P.E., M.ASCE, (Water Resour. Engr., U.S. Geological Survey, 4512 McMurry Ave., Ft. Collins, CO 80525-3400. E-mail:, Heather L. H. Seitz, A.M.ASCE, (Engr. I, El Paso County Dept. of Transp., Colorado Springs, CO 80922. E-mail:, and John F. Scott, P.E., M.ASCE, (Pres., Inst. for Water and Envir. Systems, Fort Collins, CO 80521. E-mail:

Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, Vol. 126, No. 5, September/October 2000, pp. 270-276, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Conflicts in water resources exist because river-reservoir systems are managed to optimize traditional benefits (e.g., hydropower, and flood control), which are historically quantified in economic terms, whereas natural and environmental resources, including in-stream and riparian resources, are more difficult or impossible to quantify in economic terms. Multicriteria decision analysis provides a quantitative approach to evaluate resources subject to river basin management alternatives. This objective quantification method includes inputs from special interest groups, the general public, and concerned individuals, as well as professionals for each resource considered in a trade-off analysis. Multicriteria decision analysis is applied to resources and flow alternatives presented in the environmental impact statement for Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. A numeric rating and priority-weighting scheme is used to evaluate 29 specific natural resource attributes, grouped into seven main resource objectives, for nine flow alternatives enumerated in the environmental impact statement.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Decision making
Environmental issues
Multiple objective analysis
River flow
Resource management