A multi-attribute decision-making approach to the selection of point-of-use water treatment
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- Pagsuyoin, S.A., Santos, J.R., Latayan, J.S. et al. Environ Syst Decis (2015) 35: 437. doi:10.1007/s10669-015-9567-0
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Despite the recent major accomplishment in meeting our global water target in the UN Millennium Development Goal 7, a significant number of people, mostly in low-income regions, are still without access to reliable and safe water sources. To address the health burden of inadequate water in these regions, several point-of-use (POU) treatment technologies have been developed and are now available in the market. This outcome has created both an opportunity and a challenge in selecting technologies that are suitable in poor communities. In the current work, we present an application of the multi-attribute decision-making (MADM) methodology to rank and select options for POU water treatment technologies that are appropriate for low-income communities. The paper makes three significant research contributions. Firstly, we review the features, efficacy, and operation of currently available POU water treatment technologies to identify challenges in their implementation. Secondly, we propose a set of evaluation criteria, categorized into four general themes, for assessing the efficacy and suitability of a POU water treatment technology in a given area. We also examine the application of MADM methodology in prioritizing alternatives using these criteria as attributes. Finally, we present a case application of our proposed methodology in a rural municipality in Quezon Province, Philippines. Six common POU water treatment alternatives were considered: solar disinfection, boiling, chlorination, combined disinfection and flocculation with Moringa oleifera, ceramic filtration and biosand filtration. Results of the analysis show that water treatment with M. oleifera and ceramic filters are the most preferred treatment alternatives in the municipality, while chlorination is the least preferred. The most important factors for selecting water treatment methods are initial costs, by-products of water treatment, throughput, and energy input. The proposed MADM model can be applied to other areas where a centralized water treatment system is not available, and a suitable POU water treatment is needed. The inclusion of multi criteria considerations in the selection process ensures that the chosen POU water treatment provides the optimal health, economic, and environmental benefits to the community.