First Advisor

Roy Koch

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science


Systems Science




Three Gorge Project -- Cost effectiveness, Water resources development -- Cost effectiveness



Physical Description

3, xvii, 393 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


The document most frequently used to support a water resource project's economic feasibility is the commercial benefit-cost analysis, which quantifies tangible and direct project consequences. The objective of this type of analysis is simply to maximize net monetary benefits. This analysis assigns an arbitrary monetary value to ecological and social disruptions, if it does not ignore these effects entirely. An improvement on this method is the social benefit-cost analysis, which assesses sane intangible costs such as air and noise pollution. Unfortunately, even the social analysis usually neglects the sometimes profound effects that a large water resource project has upon quality of life, particularly with regards to massive relocations. The purpose of this dissertation is to resolve these problems by presenting a method by which a water resource study team may use five unique viewpoints - technical, organizational, personal, social, and environmental - to quantify and compare the true benefits and costs of project construction and operation. The study team begins by rigorously documenting the three general categories of project consequence (economic, social and environmental) and assigning each benefit or cost a relative value within category according to perceived positive or negative effects. The second step is to use these quantifications to produce three impact vs. dam height curves. The final and most difficult step in this study process is to assign a relative weight to the respective economic, social, and enviromental impact clusters, depending on national priorities and the biases and personal viewpoints of the decisiomaker (s). The final product of this procedure is a single curve which is used to further investigate and assess the overall feasibility of a water resource project and the 'optimum' range of dam heights. All of the possible impacts of a large water resource project, whether they be tangible or intangible, should be investigated in order to produce an authentic indicator of project efficiency. The only way to insure that all impacts are properly accounted for is to perform an exhaustive examination of a water resource project from the five perspectives mentioned above. The body of this dissertation is an example analysis based upon the proposed Three Gorge Dam and Reservoir on the Yangtze River in the People's Republic of China. This project will be the world's largest power plant at 13,000 megawatts. Because of its size, anticipated impacts, and the interest it has generated all over the world, the Three Gorge project is considered the ideal subject of a comprehensive multiple perspective analysis as described in this study.


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