Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics


A number of objectives in water resources development have been identified historically, but planning practice has adhered most closely to economic efficiency. A question of growing concern is whether or not the conscious inclusion of multiple objectives simultaneously in water resources planning can result in the formulation of plans closer to an optimum in the satisfaction of peoples’ total desires than does a plan which optimizes the objective of economic efficiency or other single objective. The purpose of this study was to determine if the explicit employment of multiple objectives in water resources planning represents a strengthening of capability to plan for the accommodation of demands for water among competing interests. This involved determination of 1. The theoretical implications of employing multiple objective; 2. The degree to which the employment of multiple objectives is compatible with quantitative analysis; and 3. The adequacy of the existing institutional structure to administer multiple objective planning. Current evaluation procedures were found to support the economic efficiency planning objective, but not consider the income redistributional effects of a resource allocation. National, the aggregate effect is small, but on a project basis the distributional effects can be significant on the people in the affected area. The effects of water resources development on the environment also appear significant and appropriately evaluated as a dimension of welfare. Income redistribution, environmental quality and other planning objectives were conceived to provide a better approximation of the welfare considerations of a resources allocation than can be gained from a single objective. Together appropriate planning objectives give a breadth of choice in making decisions concerning the water resource. The contemporary planning efforts in the Susquehanna River Basin Study were reviewed as an attempt to employ a multiple-objective approach to planning through the preparation of separate plans responsive to each of the planning objectives of economic efficiency, environmental quality and regional development. Particular difficulties were noted to be encountered in the identification and quantification of benefits for the objectives other than economic efficiency. Criteria for the selection of features from the individual plans to be recommended as the basin plan by the study coordination group were observed to also be difficult to define. The coordination group had not reached agreement concerning the degree of detail to be presented to policy makers and the public; other institutional barriers were also recognized. In reporting on the attempt by the Susquehanna River Basin Study to formulate plans responsive to several objectives, a dialogue on the practical value of multiple-objective planning has been opened. This study in applied economics provides a rationale for an advance in approach to water resources planning employing multiple objectives. It places in perspective the alternative objectives of planning and conceptualizes and rationalizes their inclusion in formal plan formulation. Objectives relate goals of people and the purposes served by water use and development and were found, on theoretical grounds, to provide additional dimensions to welfare. A multiple-objective framework attempts to make costs explicit including the opportunity costs of foreclosed alternatives. Wider range of choice is promoted. This study provides a workable rationale to improve the basis for decision making in water resources planning.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Water resources development



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University