A multi-criteria decision analysis approach towards efficient rainwater harvesting

Amirhossein Shadmehri Toosi, Erfan Ghasemi Tousi, Seyed Ali Ghassemi, Ali Cheshomi, Sina Alaghmand

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) is becoming one of the most promising alternative sources of fresh water which can be potentially captured and utilized, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions (ASARs). However, identification of potential sites for RWH on a large scale has always been a great challenge, and therefore, requires further studies. Most recent studies on this topic select RWH zones employing Geographic Information Systems (GIS), combined with multi-criteria analysis and hydrological models. Nevertheless, there are a few studies, mostly in small catchments, that locate potential zones considering socio-economic factors. In this paper, a GIS-based Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) is presented to identify potential RWH areas incorporating socio-economic factors including distance from drainage networks, roads, urban areas, faults, farms and wells. The proposed methodology was implemented at a large catchment scale in Mashhad Plain Basin with an area of 9762 (km2) located in the northeast of Iran. Results show that 48% of the study area is not suitable for RWH. The rest of the study area is divided into three potential zones that are poor, moderate and good for RWH, covering 31%, 43%, and 26% of the potential areas, respectively. Ponds and pans, check dams and terracing were considered as the best practices for the good RWH potential areas. Preliminary estimates suggest that up to 158, 135 and 110 M m3 of precipitation could be received respectively by each system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124501
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Decision support system
  • Geospatial techniques
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Water conservation

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