Water Resources Management

, Volume 28, Issue 14, pp 5157–5174 | Cite as

A Spatial Multi-Criteria Analysis Approach for Locating Suitable Sites for Construction of Subsurface Dams in Northern Pakistan

  • Imran Ali JamaliEmail author
  • Ulla Mörtberg
  • Bo Olofsson
  • Muhammad Shafique


Pakistan is an agricultural country with an increasing interest for hydropower. Water management problems such as sedimentation and evaporation have been of high concern for surface water reservoirs for many years. Therefore, groundwater storage through subsurface dams could be promising, especially considering the monsoon rainfall and seasonal river flows in Pakistan. The paper aims to develop and test a methodology to locate suitable sites for construction of subsurface dams using spatial multi-criteria analysis (SMCA) in the northern parts of Pakistan. For the study, spatial data on geology, slope, land cover, soil depth and topographic wetness index (TWI) was used. Two weighting techniques, i.e. the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and the factor interaction method (FIM), were employed and compared. The sensitivity of the two methods as well as of the model parameters was analysed. The suitability map derived from AHP yielded about 3 % (16 km2) of the total area as most suitable, about 4 % (22 km2) as moderately suitable and about 0.8 % (5 km2) as least suitable. The suitability map derived from FIM identified about 2.7 % (14 km2) of the total area as most suitable, about 4 % (22 km2) as moderately suitable and about 1 % (7 km2) as least suitable. The sensitivity analyses suggested that AHP was a more robust weighting technique than FIM and that land cover was the most sensitive factor. The methodology presented here shows promising results and could be used in early planning to locate suitable sites for construction of subsurface dams.


Subsurface dams Pakistan Groundwater Spatial multi-criteria analysis AHP GIS 



Lars Erik Lundbergs Scholarship Foundation (Dnr 2011/10, Dnr 2012/05, Dnr 2013/09, Dnr 2014/06) and Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan through Quaid-e-Awam University of Science and Technology, Nawabshah (QUEST/FDINP/EE&AF/10-751), Pakistan are acknowledged for funding this project. We are thankful to Caroline Karlsson, Emad Dehkordi, Xi Pang and Mårten Karlson for valuable inputs.


  1. Ahmad N (1982) An estimate of water loss by evaporation in Pakistan. Irrigation Drainage and Flood Control Research Council, Planning and Coordination Cell, LahoreGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahmad S, Hussain Z, Qureshi AS, Majeed R, Saleem M (2004) Drought Mitigation in Pakistan: Current Status and Options for Future Strategies. Working Paper 85, Drought Series. Paper: 3Google Scholar
  3. Al-Adamat R, Diabat A, Shatwani G (2010) Combining GIS with multicriteria decision making for siting water harvesting ponds in Northern Jordan. J Arid Environ 74:1471–1477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ali HM (2010) Fundamentals of irrigation and on-farm water management. Springer 1:556Google Scholar
  5. Anbazhagan A, Thingbaijam KKS, Nath SK, Narendara Kumar JN, Sitharam TG (2012) Multi-criteria seismic hazard evaluation for Bangalore city, India. J Asian Earth Sci 38:186–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anwar OH (1983) The effect of a subsurface barrier on the conservation of freshwater in coastal aquifers. Water Resour 17(10):1257–1265Google Scholar
  7. ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) (2009) Retrieved in 2009 from ASTER GDEM is a product of METI and NASA
  8. Ayalew L, Yamagishi H (2005) The application of GIS-based logistic regression for landslide susceptibility mapping in the Kakuda-Yahiko Mountains, Central Japan. Geomorphology 65:15–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Babiker IS, Mohamed MAA, Hiyama T, Kato K (2005) A GIS-based DRASTIC model for assessing aquifer vulnerability in Kakamigahara Heights, Gifu Prefecture, central Japan. Sci Total Environ 345:127–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Balasubramaniam A, Boyle AR, Voulvoulis N (2007) Improving petroleum contaminated land remediation decision-making through the MCA weighting process. Chemosphere 66:791–798CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Basharat M, Rohn J, Baig MS, Ehret D (2012) The lithological and structural control of Hattian Bala rock avalanche triggered by the Kashmir earthquake 2005, Sub-Himalayas, Northern Pakistan. J Earth Sci 23(2):213–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Baurne G (1984) Trap-dams: artificial subsurface storage of water. Water Int 9:2–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bazilian M, Rogner H, Howells M, Hermann S, Arent D, Gielen D, Steduto P, Mueller A, Komor P, Tol RSJ, Yumkella KK (2011) Considering the energy, water and food nexus: towards an integrated modelling approach. Energy Policy 39:7896–7906CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Beven K, Kirkby M (1979) A physically based variable contributing area model of basin hydrology. Hydrol Sci Bull 24(1):43–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bhatti SS, Khattak KNM, Roohi R (2008) Planning water resources and management in Pishn-lora river basin of Baluchistan using GIS/RS. Second International Conference on Advances in Space Technologies Islamabad, Pakistan 29th -30th NovemberGoogle Scholar
  16. Chenini I, Mammou AB, May ME (2010) Groundwater recharge zone mapping using GIS-based multi-criteria analysis: a case study in Central Tunisia (Maknassy Basin). Water Resour Manag 24:921–939CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. DCR (1998) District Census Report (1998) Population Census Organization, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, PakistanGoogle Scholar
  18. Dhakate R, Rao G, Raju A, Mahesh J, Rao J, Sankaran S (2013) Integrated approach for identifying suitable sites for rainwater harvesting structures for groundwater augmentation in Basaltic Terrain. Water Resour Manag 27:1279–1299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eastman JR (1999) Multi-criteria evaluation and GIS. In: Longley PA, Goodchild MF, Maguire DJ, Rhind DW (eds) Geographical information systems. John Wiley and Sons, New York, pp 493–502Google Scholar
  20. Eastman JR (2006) IDRISI Andes-Guide to GIS and image processing. Clark labs, Clark UniversityGoogle Scholar
  21. ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) (2013) ArcGIS Resource Center Desktop 10 – How Subset Features works. Retrieved January 9 2014 from:
  22. Fernández DS, Lutz MA (2010) Urban flood hazard zoning in Tucumán Province, Argentina, using GIS and multicriteria decision analysis. Eng Geol 111:90–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Google Earth 6.0 (2010) Muzaffarabad 34°21′34.87″N, 73°28′15.79″E, elevation 2226M. <> [Viewed April 07, 2014]
  24. Graymore MLM, Wallis AM, Richards AJ (2009) An Index of Regional Sustainability: a GIS-based multiple criteria analysis decision support system for progressing sustainability. Ecol Complex 6:453–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. GSP (Geological Survey of Pakistan) (2009) Retrieved in 2009 from
  26. Haq I, Abbas TS (2006) Sedimentation of Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs. Pakistan Engineering Congress, 70th annual session proceedings. Paper No. 659Google Scholar
  27. Hendrickx JMH, Khan AS, Bannink MH, Birch D, Kidd C (1991) Numerical analysis of groundwater recharge through stony soils using limited data. J Hydrol 127(1–4):173–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hussain A, Mughal N, Haq I, Latif A (2004) Geological map of the Gari Habib Ullah area, district Mansehra and parts of Muzaffarabad district, AJK, Geological Map Series. Geological Survey of Pakistan, Islamabad-PakistanGoogle Scholar
  29. Ibrahim MB (2009) Rainwater Harvesting for Urban Areas: a Success Story from Gadarif City in Central Sudan. Water Resour Manag 23:2727–2736CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ishida S, Tsuchihara T, Imaizzumi M (2006) Fluctuation of NO3-N in groundwater of the reservoir of the Sunagawa subsurface dam, Miyako Island, Japan. Paddy Water Environ 4:101–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ishida S, Tsuchihara T, Yoshimoto S, Imaizumi M (2011) Sustainable use of groundwater with underground dams. JARQ 45(1):51–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jamali AI, Olofsson B, Mörtberg U (2013) Locating suitable sites for construction of subsurface dams using GIS. Environ Earth Sci 70:2511–2525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jha MK, Chowdary VM, Kulkarni Y, Mal BC (2014) Rainwater harvesting planning using geospatial techniques and multicriteria decision analysis. Resour Conserv Recycl 83:96–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kamp U, Growley BJ, Khattak GA, Owen LA (2008) GIS-based landslide susceptibility mapping for the 2005 Kashmir earthquake region. Geomorphology 101:631–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kessides IN (2013) Chaos in power: Pakistan’s electricity crisis. Energy Policy 55:271–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kourgialas NN, Karatzas GP (2011) Flood management and a GIS modelling method to assess flood-hazard areas-a case study. Hydrol Sci J 56(2):212–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Latif A, Afridi AGK, Majid AN (2008) Geological map of the Balakot quadrangle (Earthquake affected area), District Mansehra, NWFP, Pakistan, Geological Map Series. Geological Survey of Pakistan, Islamabad-PakistanGoogle Scholar
  38. Lodwick WA, Monson W, Svoboda L (1990) Attribute error and sensitivity analysis of map operations in geographical information systems: suitability analysis. Int J Geogr Inf Syst 4(4):413–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Machiwal D, Jha MK, Mal MC (2011) Assessment of groundwater potential in a Semi-Arid Region of India using remote sensing, GIS and MCDM techniques. Water Resour Manag 25:1359–1386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Malczewski J (1999) GIS and multicriteria decision analysis. John Wiley and Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Malczewski J (2000) Review article on the use of weighted linear combination method in GIS: common and bestpractice approaches. Trans GIS 4(1):5–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Malczewski J (2004) GIS-based land-use suitability analysis: a critical overview. Prog Plan 62:3–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ministry of the environment Japan (2004) Model project to combat desertification in Nare village, Bukina Faso. Technical report of the subsurface dam. Available at:
  44. Mirza UK, Ahmad N, Majeed T, Harijan K (2008) Hydropower use in Pakistan: past, present and future. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 12:1641–1651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mukherjee P, Singh CK, Mukherjee S (2012) Delineation of groundwater potential zones in arid region of India-A remote sensing and GIS approach. Water Resour Manag 26:2643–2672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nilsson A (1988) Groundwater dams for small-scale water supply. Intermediate Technology Publications Limited, London: 69Google Scholar
  47. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (2012) Accessed from on January 12, 2012
  48. Pakistan Meteorological Department (2011) Accessed from on January 13, 2012
  49. Quinn PF, Beven KJ, Lamb R (1995) The ln(a/tanβ) index: how to calculate it and how to use it within the TOPMODEL framework. Hydrol Process 9(2):161–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Qureshi ME, Harrison SR, Wegener MK (1999) Validation of multi-criteria analysis models. Agric Syst 62:105–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Qureshi SA, McCinick GP, Sarwar A, Sharma A (2010) Challenges and prospects of sustainable groundwater management in the Indus Basin, Pakistan. Water Resour Manag 24:1551–1569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rahman MA, Rusteberg B, Gogu RC, Ferreira JPL, Sauter M (2012) A new spatial multi-criteria decision support tool for site selection for implementation of managed aquifer recharge. J Environ Manag 99:61–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rahman MA, Rusteberg B, Uddin MS, Lutz A, Saada MA, Sauter M (2013) An integrated study of spatial multicriteria analysis and mathematical modelling for managed aquifer recharge site suitability mapping and site ranking at Northern Gaza coastal aquifer. J Environ Manag 124:25–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Raju JN, Reddy VKT, Munirathnam P (2006) Subsurface dams to harvest rain water-A case study of the swarnamukhi river basin, Southern India. Hydrogeol J 14:526–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Saaty TL (1980) The analytic hierarchy process. Mc Graw Hill Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  56. Scally FAD (1994) Relative importance of snow accumulation and monsoon rainfall data for estimating annual runoff, Jhelum basin, Pakistan. Hydrol Sci 39:199–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Shaban A, Khawlie M, Bou Kheir R, Abdullah C (2001) Assessment of road instability along a typical mountainous road using GIS and aerial photos, Lebanon-eastern Mediterranean. Bull Eng Geol Environ 60:93–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Shafique M, van der Meijde M, Rossiter GD (2011a) Geophysical and remote sensing-based approach to model regolith thickness in a data-sparse environment. Catena 87:11–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shafique M, van der Meijde M, Ullah S (2011b) Regolith modeling and its relation to earthquake induced building damage: a remote sensing approach. J Asian Earth Sci 42(1–2):65–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Shiklomanov A (1999) Scientific Leader and Editor State Hydrological Institute (SHI) St. PetersburgGoogle Scholar
  61. Strager MP, Rosenberger R (2006) Incorporating stakeholder preferences for land conservation: weights and measures in spatial MCA. Ecol Econ 58(1):79–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sugio S, Nakada K, Urish DW (1987) Subsurface seawater intrusion barriers analysis. J Hydraul Eng 113:767–779CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Suleman S, Wood MK, Shah BH, Murray M (1995) Development of a rainwater harvesting system for increasing soil moisture in arid rangelands of Pakistan. J Arid Environ 31(4):471–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tariq MAUR, Van de Giesen N (2012) Floods and flood management in Pakistan. Phys Chem Earth 47–48:11–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. UN-Water Work Programme (2010) Accessed online from on April 02, 2012
  66. USAID (2009) Pakistan’s food and agriculture system. Nathan Associates IncGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Imran Ali Jamali
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ulla Mörtberg
    • 1
  • Bo Olofsson
    • 1
  • Muhammad Shafique
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and EngineeringKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.National Center of Excellence in GeologyUniversity of PeshawarPeshawarPakistan

Personalised recommendations