Hinton, S, 2015 –– Application of an analytic hierarchy process for optimal decision-making in a wastewater management options assessment: A case study in Caboolture, Queensland
My project was set in the context of an expanding peri-urban development in South East Queensland, and the potential consequences that the wastewater generated from the increasing population would have on the local aquatic ecosystems. The region’s sewage treatment plant, although operating at a high standard, represents a significant source of nitrogen and phosphorous pollution which meant that there was already a baseline level of environmental stress present. As an employee of the water and wastewater service provider, I investigated a range of options for alternative treatment, disposal and/or reuse of wastewater in the catchment, and then evaluated these against a combination of the organisation’s strategic priorities and broader integrated water management principles.
I researched and then applied a semi-quantitative analytical assessment framework to a range of potential options for wastewater management, which provided a higher level of rigour to the assessment process when compared against the organisation’s traditional multi-criteria analysis approach. The organisation was already pursuing the development of a large-scale recycled water irrigation scheme; however, a number of uncertainties meant that a ‘backup plan’ was needed. Through the results of my options analysis and assessment, I was able to identify the optimal backup plan from an integrated economic, environmental and social perspective.
Getting out of my comfort zone was really one of the highlights of my final project! I work as a water quality scientist within the organisation, and this project required me to develop an understanding of basic engineering principles, project management and financial analysis. My coursework in the Master of Integrated Water Management program provided a good basis for some of the skills I needed to develop, and I was able to access a lot of knowledge and experience from various individuals within the organisation. I feel that I have gained a much wider understanding of the pressures and competing drivers that influence the operation and management of a modern urban water utility.
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