Collaborative, risk-informed, triple bottom line, multi-criteria decision analysis planning framework for Integrated Urban Water Management

Jeanne Cole, Sybil Sharvelle, Neil Grigg, Gary Pivo, Jon Haukaas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The historical division of water management into different sectors, with financially and technologically driven decision processes, makes taking a more holistic approach to finding sustainable solutions for urban water management difficult. Here, a planning framework for Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) that evolved during a two-year study evaluating alternative strategies for dual water supply within a local government context is described. The planning framework was developed to overcome the obstacles that surfaced over the course of the study. It provides a structured approach to strategic decision making that integrates triple bottom line (TBL), multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA), uncertainty and sensitivity analyses, and participatory decision making into an exploration of water supply alternatives. TBL assured stakeholders that the decisions considered the financial, social, and environmental performance. MCDA provided visibility into the benefits and trade-offs of the alternatives by providing a quantitative method for comparing alternatives that incorporates incommensurate performance indicators and priorities of multiple stakeholders. Uncertainty and sensitivity analyses addressed concerns regarding decision risk and improved transparency into inputs driving uncertainty in the analysis. Finally, a flexible participatory process helped to circumvent socio-institutional barriers by adapting the methodology and increasing cooperation among stakeholders and multidisciplinary experts. The resulting collaborative, risk-informed, TBL-MCDA (CRTM) planning framework helps to refine the feasible set of alternatives by providing more transparency into the drivers, technologies, and stakeholders influencing the decision. The planning framework increased the number of participants that were involved in the study, increased interaction between participants, changed the structure of the decision problem, increased the number of performance indicators considered, and improved stakeholder cooperation in the decision process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1722
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 24 2018


  • Integrated urban water management
  • Multi-criteria decision analysis
  • Planning framework

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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