Science Inventory

Review of Multi-Criteria Decision Aid for Integrated Sustainability Assessment of Urban Water Systems - MCEARD


Lai, E., S. Lundie, AND N. ASHBOLT. Review of Multi-Criteria Decision Aid for Integrated Sustainability Assessment of Urban Water Systems - MCEARD. URBAN WATER. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 5(4):315-327, (2008).


The use of Multi-Criteria Decision Aid (MCDA) in water related integrative sustainability assessment is the focus of this paper because it has emerged as a key approach in the Australian water industry (Lundie et al., 2006; Hajkowicz and Collins, 2007). The first aim of this paper was to review the common integrative approaches for sustainability assessment in the context of urban water management. The second aim was to identify generic shortcomings associated with the use of MCDA for assessing urban water sustainability problems. To address these two aims, the paper is divided into three main sections. The first section reviews the four common integration techniques used in sustainability assessment, leading up to a focus on MCDA. The second section reviews the MCDA methodologies. The third section critically examines the shortcomings associated with MCDA and integrated sustainability assessment.


Integrated sustainability assessment is part of a new paradigm for urban water decision making. Multi-criteria decision aid (MCDA) is an integrative framework used in urban water sustainability assessment, which has a particular focus on utilising stakeholder participation. Here MCDA is reviewed in the context of urban water management used in a decision making framework. Three other commonly used integrated approaches in urban water management (cost-benefit analysis, triple bottom line and integrated assessment) are compared with MCDA. Generic types of shortcomings associated with MCDA are discussed to provide a clear understanding of MCDA’s limitation in urban water management decision making; including 1) preferential independency, 2) double counting and under-counting, and 3) transparency of MCDA methods and results.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 12/01/2008
Record Last Revised: 04/08/2010
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 191213