Historically, the main objective of water resources development has been economic efficiency, and the technique for its evaluation has been benefit-cost analysis. Gradually other objectives have emerged, and these in order of their emergence are regional income redistribution, environmental quality and social well-being. These multi-objectives have given rise to multifarious problems, and have made the planning process much more complex than ever before. The different objectives are not mutually exclusive, and, hence, contributions to one can only be made at the expense of others. Trade-off studies between different objectives are difficult to make. It is suggested that one way to overcome this difficulty could be to design a system to perform optimally in terms of one objective, subject to a specified level of performance of the other, which in effect becomes a constraint. The paper also discusses the pros and cons of the desirability of public participation in our decision-making processes, and the neccssity of developing social sciences models to aid water planning and management. (KEY TERMS: water resources planning and management; multi-objective planning; environmental quality ; public participation and involvement; social sciences modelling).
By Asit K. Biswas, 1973. Article published in American Water Resources Association, Volume 9, Number 1, pages 746-754.