Combining GIS with fuzzy multicriteria decision-making for landfill siting in a fast-growing urban region

Ni-Bin Chang, G Parvathinathan, Jeff B Breeden
Journal of Environmental Management 2008, 87 (1): 139-53
Landfill siting is a difficult, complex, tedious, and protracted process requiring evaluation of many different criteria. This paper presents a fuzzy multicriteria decision analysis alongside with a geospatial analysis for the selection of landfill sites. It employs a two-stage analysis synergistically to form a spatial decision support system (SDSS) for waste management in a fast-growing urban region, south Texas. The first-stage analysis makes use of the thematic maps in Geographical information system (GIS) in conjunction with environmental, biophysical, ecological, and socioeconomic variables leading to support the second-stage analysis using the fuzzy multicriteria decision-making (FMCDM) as a tool. It differs from the conventional methods of integrating GIS with MCDM for landfill selection because the approach follows two sequential steps rather than a full-integrated scheme. The case study was made for the city of Harlingen in south Texas, which is rapidly evolving into a large urban area due to its vantage position near the US-Mexico borderlands. The purpose of GIS was to perform an initial screening process to eliminate unsuitable land followed by utilization of FMCDM method to identify the most suitable site using the information provided by the regional experts with reference to five chosen criteria. Research findings show that the proposed SDSS may aid in recognizing the pros and cons of potential areas for the localization of landfill sites in any study region. Based on initial GIS screening and final FMCDM assessment, "site 1" was selected as the most suitable site for the new landfill in the suburban area of the City of Harlingen. Sensitivity analysis was performed using Monte Carlo simulation where the decision weights associated with all criteria were varied to investigate their relative impacts on the rank ordering of the potential sites in the second stage. Despite variations of the decision weights within a range of 20%, it shows that "site 1" remains its comparative advantage in the final site selection process.

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