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J Environ Manage. 2001 Nov;63(3):293-305.

Identification of river water quality using the fuzzy synthetic evaluation approach.

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Department of Environmental Engineering, National Cheng-Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, R.O.C.


Proper identification of water quality conditions in a river system based on limited observations is an essential task for meeting the goals of environmental management. Various classification methods have been used for estimating the changing status and usability of surface water in river basins. However, a discrepancy frequently arises from the lack of a clear distinction between each water utilisation mode, the uncertainty in the quality criteria employed and the vagueness or fuzziness embedded in the decision-making output values. Owing to inherent imprecision, difficulties always exist in some conventional methodologies when describing integrated water quality conditions with respect to various chemical constituents, biological aspects, nutrients, and aesthetic qualities. This paper presents a comparative study using three fuzzy synthetic evaluation techniques to assess water quality conditions in comparison to the outputs generated by conventional procedures such as the Water Quality Index (WQI). Based on a set of data collected at seven sampling stations, a case study for the Tseng-Wen River system in Taiwan was used to demonstrate their application potential. The findings clearly indicate that the techniques may successfully harmonise inherent discrepancies and interpret complex conditions. A further, newly developed fuzzy synthetic evaluation approach described in this paper might also be useful for verifying water quality conditions for the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program and be helpful for constructing an effective water quality management strategy.

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