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planning and management provide means of examining the different alternatives involved in the design and management of complex water resource systems. These alternatives regard the extent to which water resource systems can effectively and equitably contribute to the welfare of their users while protecting the environment and increasing the ecosystems’ carrying capacity. DSSs can also aid in real-time, adaptive planning and management, where the decisions to be taken, as well as the procedures involved, are continually updated and improved over time.

DSSs are not only analytical tools, but also serve as a means of communication, training, forecasting and experimentation. They can act as links between scientists and decision-makers by providing different scenarios or alternative future environments against which decisions have to be tested. The goal is not to predict the future but rather to learn to live with uncertainty, to factor it into the decision process and to improve the quality of thinking among decision-makers.

In the main Decision Support Systems are suitable for:

linking simulation and optimization models to determine the values of decision variables or system performance indicators;

combined use with GIS and other graphic procedures that permit statistical analyses and map displays of spatial data;

combined use with neural networks able to learn to reproduce results of complex physical and chemical processes and hence provide “black boxes” for the above processes.

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