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Development of a decision support system for Prioritization of multimedia dischargers

TitleDevelopment of a decision support system for Prioritization of multimedia dischargers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsKeyes AM, Palmer RN
JournalEnvironmental Management
Start Page601
Date Published09/1993
KeywordsDecision support system, Environmental protection, Environmental risk, Multimedia management, Risk prioritization

In 1990 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began sponsoring several pilot projects in its regional offices to examine the potential benefits of adopting a multimedia approach to facility management. This approach differs from traditional practices at EPA in that facilities (dischargers regulated under permits issued by the agency) are managed based upon their cumulative impacts to all media: air, water, and land. Currently, facilities are managed by separate programs at EPA that evaluate environmental impacts from a single-media perspective.

One aspect of discharger management is the necessity to allocate limited financial resources in a way that will minimize risk to human health and the environment. A careful, risk-based prioritization of facilities is one means of providing insight to the most effective strategy of allocating monitoring, inspection, and enforcement resources. Prioritization from a multimedia perspective is particularly difficult, however, since it requires translation and integration of medium-specific facility performances, management objectives, and perceptions of risk into a cumulative rating.

A computerized decision support system (DSS) designed to guide management through the prioritization process from a multimedia perspective was identified as a potentially valuable tool for use in the pilot projects. This article describes the development of such a prototype, outlines the features of the completed system, and discusses its potential for use at EPA.