Online Course on Decision Support Systems in River Basin Management

IHE Delft Support Systems in River Basin Management

Target Audience

The course is designed for young and mid-level professionals who are involved in decision making processes in river basins at different levels, or those who are developing modelling and information systems support for managing water resources in river basins. Participants who want to develop competencies in these fields can also apply for the course.


This online course is focusing on decision support methods (modelling, optimisation, multi criteria analysis) and their encapsulation in systems for application in river basin planning and management.

Learning Objectives

Course content

River Basin Management
Introduction to the concept of RBM; Guiding principles in RBM; relations between the natural, socioeconomic and administrative systems; functions and users; Challenges: integration across functions, upstream-downstream integration, trade-offs; Nature of RBM complexity requiring decision support

Decision support: structuring decision making problems and solution techniques
Introduction to decision making processes; Formulation of objectives and alternatives; Hierarchical structuring of objectives; Formulation of alternatives in terms of control (decision) variables; Introduction to simulation, optimisation and multi-criteria analyses as techniques used in decision support

Modelling simulations as tools for decision support in RBM
Modelling paradigms: physically-based modelling, data-driven modelling-agent-based modelling; Types of modelling used for RBM: river basin modelling; catchment modelling; river and flood Modelling; water quality and ecological modelling; socioeconomic modelling; Special focus on River Basin Modelling; Computer exercises with River Basin Modelling Software

Optimisation techniques for decision support in RBM
Introduction to optimisation; Classical optimisation (calculus-based); Single-objective and multi-objective optimisation; Linear Programming; Dynamic Programming; Formulation of typical water resources problems as optimisation problems; Exercises with optimisation software packages

Multi-Criteria Analyses (MCA) techniques and their role in decision support for RBM
The need for MCA; Definition of MCA problems; Solution methods – compensatory and non-compensatory; Decision matrix and its use; Multiple Attributes Decision Methods (MADM); Computer exercises with DSS software that implements MCA

Structure and types of DSSs for RBM
Introduction to DSS as computer-based tools; Structure of a generic DSS; Types of DSSs; Examples of developed DSSs and case studies