Reports and Papers

Fedra, K. (1995)
Decision support for natural resources management:
Models, GIS and expert systems.
AI Applications, 9/3 (1995) pp 3-19.

Application Examples
Water Resources Management

A typical example of a key natural resource with commercial, public, and environmental ``uses'' is water. And a typical example of a resource management DSS would be a river basin information and management system . Designed for use by the water industry and government agencies, it provides the tools to analyze environmental impacts and constraints of water resources management options.

Using a set of data bases, a geographical information system, simulation models, and expert systems, the software addresses a number of issues such as basic water allocation and use strategies, including the often conflicting requirements of agriculture, industry, domestic use, and recreational and environmental requirements; environmental impacts from resource development projects such as reservoirs; river and reservoir water quality (as a major constraint on the use of water) under numerous land use and point discharge (waste load allocation) scenarios, eg., from industrial and domestic treatment plants but also urban storm water runoff; or groundwater contamination from landfills and its potential impact on drinking water.

Defining all the data requirements of the models integrated in the system in terms of a few standardized formats makes the integration of new components and models easy. Elements of a river basin, such as sub-catchments, reservoirs, treatment plants, irrigation districts, towns and industries, and river reaches and networks, are defined as object classes. Their attributes in a given context -- such as a model scenario -- are derived and communicated by a set of methods in a standardized form (Figure 3). For example, all time series data, for observations, model inputs, and model results, use the same generic formats. Retrieval, analysis, display, and pre-processing for the various models where these values are used as initial and boundary conditions or possibly for calibration purposes can be based on a small set of these standard formats. Similarly, spatially distributed data, whether they are maps, model inputs, or model results, all use the same set of data structures, so that, for example, the GIS provides access and tools also for model specific data sets such as matrices of porosity or transmissivity used by the groundwater models. For the GIS, they are all topical maps, that can be displayed and analyzed with the GIS tools. For the models, they are again initial and boundary conditions that are extracted from these representation formats, or model results that are stored in the same form.

Models are also interlinked with each other, so that the output of one model can be used as the input for another one; scenarios for different models draw on common sets of assumptions to ensure compatibility. For example, a rain-runoff model computes outflow from an un-gauged subcatchment for the water resources model. The irrigation model estimates water requirements which again are used in the water resources model; this in turn provides flow estimates for a selected river reach for which a stochastic water quality model is run; and the water quality model, in turn, provides input for a waste-load allocation component that includes economic considerations of investment and operations costs.

Any or all of these models may use the expert system to help estimate plausible input parameters and ensure that model scenarios are complete and consistent.

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