interact. Decision models can assimilate expertise from a wide range of disciplines and individuals to provide a more informed analysis of the decision than an individual could manage alone. This is not to say that decision analysis can replace conventional consensus-building techniques, but it can be a valuable adjunct under certain circumstances.
Sound management of contaminated sediments can be hindered by conflicts and indecision related to the complexity, uncertainty, and volatility of the issues. To help overcome these barriers, reliable tools are needed for balancing and communicating information about risks, costs, and benefits. Decision analysis is such a tool. It can integrate multiple variables in an explicit, rigorous, and reproducible manner, and it can accommodate uncertainty. Decision analytic methods do not provide absolute solutions but they do provide insights that can be used to make balanced, well-informed decisions about the management of contaminated sediments. Decision analysis may also help foster consensus and communication among stakeholders.
There are clear advantages to collecting and analyzing relevant information in a format that can be understood and weighed by decision makers and other interested parties. Decision models can lay out the technical, scientific, and regulatory bases for decisions. In addition to fostering the sound management of contaminated sediments, decision analysis might also be used to improve government regulation. The models could help determine which regulations are controlling in a particular circumstance, thereby helping to focus the search for solutions. Even outcomes that were demonstrated to be infeasible in terms of regulatory compliance could be valuable for adjusting and, perhaps, streamlining requirements. As the federal government moves to tighten requirements for impact assessments, the use of powerful analytic tools, and the concomitant development of consistent methods of reporting data, may become increasingly attractive.
The test case was developed to demonstrate the use of decision modeling and analysis in the management of contaminated sediments. Actual field data were used to ensure that the analysis was realistic. This section describes the test case in detail. The first section provides a conceptual overview of the mechanics of decision modeling. Readers unfamiliar with decision analysis or who are interested in its theoretical and conceptual underpinnings may find this information helpful. The second section describes the problem and the methodology, including the mathematical formulas used and the values chosen as parameters for the model. The third section summarizes the most important results of the decision modeling exercise.